The Coast Guard repatriated 46 Cubans who were found during several encounters with authorities out at sea near Florida, the agency said Wednesday.
At least three of the stops were made because of an alert by a good Samaritan, the Coast Guard said. All of those occurred Monday off the Florida coast.
Another was initiated by a Coast Guard Key West sector near the Marquesas Keys, a group of islands near Key West, Florida.
Images released by the Coast Guard show the migrants on what appears to be makeshift boats in the middle of the ocean. On Wednesday the crew on the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo returned the Cuban citizens home.
“Navigating the seas in unseaworthy vessels is extremely dangerous and can lead to loss of life,” said Coast Guard said Lt. Travis Poulos of Coast Guard District Seven.
Since Oct. 1, 2021, Coast Guard crews have interdicted 3,016 Cubans, a sharp rise from all of Fiscal Year 2021 when the agency encountered 838 Cuban migrants.
In Fiscal Year 2020, the number of Cubans encountered was 49, the agency said.