(Eleuthera, Bahamas) – Police and Immigration in Eleuthera, along with Defence Force personnel were actively searching the South Eleuthera area near Cape Eleuthera and Deep Creek on Saturday, May 13th, 2017, where 63 illegal migrants had been taken into custody as of 2:30pm. Up to that time, one deceased person was also discovered on a rocky coast near Cape Eleuthera. The migrants, of Haitian origin, are believed to have been on board a vessel that may have landed near the Cape Eleuthera area, which is yet to be found.
Defence Force personnel assisting in the search are from a Defence Force vessel which happened to be near south Eleuthera at the time of the incident. Authorities received a call at about 3:00am on Saturday morning, and the landing is suspected to have taken place around 8pm on Friday evening, May 12th, 2017. An Immigration team out of New Providence arrived on Eleuthera at 11am Saturday morning, to assist with local and Defence Force teams already on the ground.
As of 10am on Monday morning May 15th, 2017, authorities reported that 95 illegal migrants had been taken into custody, since being alerted during the early morning hours on Saturday to an illegal landing in the Cape Eleuthera area. With no vessel found as yet, authorities suspect the landing may have been a drop off (not confirmed). Police, Defence Force and Immigration teams are still actively searching.
On Tuesday morning May 16th, 2017, authorities reported that the final number of illegal migrants taken into custody during the intensive three-day search was revised down to 88 (not including 1 deceased person). 73 men (including 1 minor boy) and 15 women of Haitian nationality were transported from South Eleuthera to New Providence, with the final group of people leaving on Monday evening, along with the returning Immigration team out of New Providence who had assisted the local officers on island. Chief Immigration Officer in Charge of the Eleuthera District, Mrs. Shema Darling, commented that local teams would continue conducting spot checks across Eleuthera. The public was also warned against harbouring any illegal migrants, with fines up to $10,000, and prison terms up to five years, possible if prosecuted. The Immigration Department also extended thanks to the community of Deep Creek, which assisted in multiple ways during the search operation, including transportation resources, and reporting. OIC Darling added that recommendations for a “Mini-Base” to be established in South Eleuthera were being communicated to New Providence, because of the sheer number of illegal landing incidents being experienced.