FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A smuggling vessel transporting 32 Haitian migrants ran aground in the Fort Pierce Inlet on Saturday morning and were taken into custody, agencies confirmed.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including Air Marine Operations and Border Patrol, was the lead agency with assistance from U.S. Coast Guard; St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, including its helicopter; and Fort Pierce police.
At about 10:30 a.m. Coast Guard crews responded to a report of a possible migrant venture. Crews interdicted 32 people aboard the vessel. Approximately 12 jumped in the water and made it to shore, according to the agency on an inquiry.
The 32 will remain in Coast Guard custody and likely be processed for future transfer/repatriation to their country of origin.
The Coast Guard didn't list the nationalities but Fort Pierce police said they were Haitians.
The department wrote on Facebook "all of the migrants are in custody and there is no danger to the surrounding community. The Fort Pierce Police Department will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day."
St. Lucie County Sheriff's Keith Pearson near the scene told WPTV photojournalist Jeff Ringrose his personnel assisted with a boatful of migrants that ran aground on a Wesley's Island sand bar between Bird Island and South Causeway Park.
Migrants were on the boat, which was adrift and didn't make it ashore, Pearson said.
Pearson posted a video message on Facebook.
Todd F. Hunt also submitted visuals to WPTV and said Todd Hunt he counted about 20 people on the boat that looks "very old" with no visible markings. He posted video on YouTube.