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KNIGHT ISLAND Responds To Capsized Migrant-Smuggling Boat Off Palm Beach County

Around 2:30 a.m. on June 14, the Coast Guard vessel KNIGHT ISLAND noticed a boat drifting without its navigational lights on, about twelve miles off Riviera Beach in Florida. According to Petty Officer Nick Ameen, the boat then accelerated and attempted to elude the authorities, before stopping about 12 miles off shore.

Ameen said the crew then saw numerous people emerging from the lower cabin, and the boat then capsized within seconds. All twelve people were thrown into the water. Officials believe the boat was overloaded on one side. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office dive team found the body of one woman beneath the sunken boat. The Coast Guard rescued eleven more from the 24-foot wreck, one of whom required hospitalization.

The remaining ten persons rescued were in good condition; all claimed Jamaican nationality. The Coast Guard, along with its partner agencies, believes the boat was part of a migrant smuggling operation which ferries migrants illegally into the country from Jamaica.

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