By Steve Plunkett
Gulf Stream police called in help from Ocean Ridge, Delray Beach, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office after discovering a boat landed on the beach Feb. 13.
Four women and four men from Haiti were detained, ranging in age from 28 to 36. Police Chief Edward Allen spotted two of the women walking near the intersection of Sea Road and State Road A1A at about 6:38 a.m., a police report said.
“The females appeared wet and had sand covering their legs,” the report said.
While patrol officers took the women to the police station, Allen located a 25-foot Grady-White cuddy cabin boat grounded in the sand nearby. The chief notified Delray Beach police dispatch, which in turn alerted officers in the surrounding communities.
Neither of the two women spoke English.
“As I was trying to interview these two females, Officer McAllister of Ocean Ridge arrived at the Gulf Stream Police Department with another female in a similar condition,” Gulf Stream Police Officer Randall Wilson wrote in the report.
Delray Beach Police Officer Angelo Marseille also responded to act as an interpreter. The Sheriff’s Office sent a helicopter to check the ocean for anyone who might not have made it to shore. Gulf Stream Sgt. John Passeggiata canvassed the beach on an all-terrain vehicle.
“Shortly thereafter U.S. Customs agent Jack Creaig discovered two Haitian migrant males exiting the beach and golf club area in the 2000 block of N. Ocean Blvd.,” the report said.
Border Patrol agent Jorge Acosta also arrived and took control of the boat, confiscating a GPS unit and a kilogram of marijuana. Homeland Security agent Joshua Woodbury interviewed the detainees and prepared them for transport to the Homeland Security facilities in Riviera Beach, the report said.
Later, at about 11:26 a.m. a K-9 team from the Border Patrol “located three other illegal migrants, one female and two males, in the 2000 block of N. Ocean Blvd. hidden in the seagrapes adjacent to the beach,” the police report said.
The boat, which had a Florida registration, was towed away.
Allen told town commissioners the next day what had happened.
“It turned into a lot of manpower being absorbed in that time,” he said. “What I did find interesting, we had a Creole interpreter from Delray who came over … and a couple of the detainees admitted they’re paying between $2,000 to $5,000 a head to get to ride over here on a boat. That’s how desperate these people are to come here.”
In mid-January a boat captained by a Bahamian brought two Cuban and nine Chinese migrants ashore in the town of Palm Beach. The Cubans reportedly told federal agents they each paid $8,000 to make the trip.