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11 migrants in custody after suspected smuggling event

Chopper 5 view of South Ocean Drive in St. Lucie County, Sept. 20, 2022
Posted at 10:17 AM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 18:20:21-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Eleven migrants have been taken into custody after a suspected smuggling event on the Treasure Coast.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Agent Walter N. Slosar said 11 migrants of various nationalities, including Haitian, Dominicans and Georgians, were taken into custody in Jensen Beach.

However, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said the migrant landing occurred shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday near the 10000 block of South Ocean Drive.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said the group consisted of nine men and two women, and a passerby saw them walking along A1A.

"That’s what prompted the citizen to call in," said Chief Deputy Brian Hester.

The majority of the individuals appeared to be Haitian.

"Immediately sent a Creole interpreter over there who engaged in dialogue with those individuals," Hester said.

Hester said their wet and barefoot appearance offered clues.

"That goes right along with a human smuggler dropping them off our coast and them making their way," Hester said.

The chief deputy added he couldn’t recall a similar incident in the past few years.

While there were no vessels along the St. Lucie County shoreline, the Coast Guard Tuesday posted photos of their crews down in the Keys preventing an illegal migrant vessel from reaching shore.

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman said the group found in St. Lucie County is currently being questioned by Homeland Security.

The Border Patrol said it has encountered more than two million migrants around the country since Oct. 1 of last year.