In a collaborative effort between the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Marine Branch and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, a Bahamian vessel named HMBS LL Smith intercepted a suspected Haitian vessel carrying irregular migrants.
The operation took place on Saturday, 1 July, at approximately 1 pm. Two members from the Turks and Caicos Regiment and RTCIPF were on board as 'shipriders' during the interception.
The intercepted vessel, a 40 ft wooden boat, was carrying approximately 189 Haitian nationals, including 140 males (including one minor) and 49 females. The migrants were promptly detained and handed over to TCI Immigration Officers for processing.
According to Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting, the Northern Caribbean Region has witnessed a surge in the number of vessels attempting to smuggle people into the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas.
In 2023 alone, the RTCIPF Marine Branch intercepted 21 vessels and detained over 2,600 migrants. These figures surpass the totals of any previous year, highlighting the escalating nature of this issue.
The commissioner expressed gratitude towards the crew of the HMBS LL Smith for their professionalism and diligence in executing the interception. He also acknowledged the partnership and support of the Government of the Bahamas and the Commodore of the RBDF in safeguarding territorial waters and borders.
Commissioner Botting commended the RTCIPF Marine Branch Team for their exceptional work in combating the threats posed by people smuggling at sea. He lauded their dedication and commitment to protecting the TCI border. The agencies in the Turks and Caicos Islands remain resolute in their efforts to address the challenges of irregular migration.
The joint operation was conducted under the shiprider agreement signed by both countries in 2022. This successful operation underscores the ongoing collaboration and partnership between the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas. By working together, the two nations strengthen their defense against shared objectives and prioritize the protection of their countries.