Local authorities are reporting that a multi-national operation involving the Turks and Caicos Islands led to the interception of a boat packed with Haitian Migrants heading to these shores.
According to TCIG, the collaborative operation under Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT), and involving the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Royal Bahamas Defense Force vessel HMBS Bahamas, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) and Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment, resulted in the safe and successful interception of a migrant vessel carrying 154 Haitian immigrants bound for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“On board the HMBS Bahamas are one member of the RTCIPF and one member of the TCI Regiment who are currently ship riders on the vessel. Their presence on the vessel provides local expertise of the TCI,” a news release from TCIG said.
In 2022, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands signed a Ship Rider agreement which allows for members of the law enforcement agencies to board the vessel of the other country to carry out maritime operations.
TCIG said the interdiction on Sunday August 13, 2023, was the second collaborative interdiction since the signing of the agreement.
Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting, commenting on the operation said: “The collaborative arrangements in the Northern Caribbean are ensuring a robust and resilient approach to the issue of irregular migration under the arrangements in the OPBAT and shiprider agreement between the TCI and the Bahamas.
“Last evening’s interception involved all three countries, the TCI, Bahamas and the US, working together to identify and deal with vessels carrying large numbers of persons seeking to enter our jurisdictions illegally. The HMBS, with two crew from the TCI safely intercepted the vessel and brought the persons on board to the TCI where they were handed over to colleagues from Immigration who as ever did a great job in dealing with the migrants as they were removed from the ship.
“Her Excellency the Governor and I, met the vessel this morning and took the opportunity to meet with the Ship’s Commander and senior crew to thank them for their partnership and a job well done. We also took the chance to congratulate our crew from the TCI for their part in the operation. We will continue to be vigilant and committed to protecting our borders and we will do this in partnership with our regional colleagues, we are stronger together.”