Coast Guard steps up sea, air patrols

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

MIAMI -- The Coast Guard said Tuesday it has stepped up sea and air patrols in response to a possible increase in the flow of illegal immigrants from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

The increase was announced as 19 Haitians were sent back home. They were the only ones who failed to get ashore when an overcrowded wooden freighter carrying more than 225 Haitians ran aground in Miami one week ago.

"We don't want to see more boats like that. The trip is extremely dangerous," Luis Diaz, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami, said of the increased interdiction efforts.

Diaz wouldn't give details on the increased interdiction. The Coast Guard regularly patrols the Windward Pass off western Haiti, the Old Bahama Channel between Haiti and Florida, and the Straits of Florida separating Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas.

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