2 men accused of smuggling 24 Haitian migrants off Florida Coast

Two boat captains were apprehended off the Florida Coast, accused of attempting to smuggle individuals into the United States.

Deputies reported that the two men were apprehended on a vessel containing 24 undocumented Haitians, which was sighted offshore near the Brevard-Indian River county line.

The Indian River Sheriff disclosed that the two men are now facing federal charges for smuggling, asserting his belief that the boat originated from Brevard County.

Law enforcement received a call about an overcrowded boat in Sebastian Inlet on the evening of Feb. 29.

"When you see that boat coming through, and they don't have any of the telltale signs — the fishing poles, the things that you would normally see — it's going to stick out," noted Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers.

Sheriff Flowers anticipates a potential increase in such incidents due to the ongoing turmoil in Haiti. "Anytime you have an island down there with turmoil, it's going to cause more migrant attempts, immigration attempts, people leaving," he explained.

None of the 24 Haitians set foot on land, streamlining the repatriation process to their home country.

"In this particular circumstance, because they were still in the water, it just expedites the process for our federal partners," clarified Sheriff Eric Flowers.

All individuals were assessed and safely handed over to federal agents for repatriation.

The Sheriff's Office remains vigilant, ensuring preventive measures to deter future attempts.

"Just because we're a small town, we're sleepy, doesn't mean that people aren't going to try and get through our waterways," he added.