A boat carrying hundreds of migrants from Haiti to America have swam to shore at an exclusive gated community in Florida.
The wooden boat was believed to be carrying about 300 migrants yesterday before it stopped in shallow water off of Ocean Reef, an upscale private club in north Key Largo, Florida.
Initial reports show that the people involved in the smuggling venture are Haitian, the US Coast Guard wrote on their Twitter account.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office report that the packed-out boat beached at around 1PM GMT, with 163 of those on the boat having swum to shore.
Many passengers remained on the heavily loaded boat, while others jumped into the water.
They can be seen jumping off the crowded vessel to swim towards Ocean Reef as it had tipped sharply to one side.
This is the third time this week that migrants have been smuggled into the US, with a fishing boat from Haiti arriving on Friday 4 March and another on Sunday 6 March.
The two incidents were off two separate islands off the Bahamas, with 179 taken into custody from Anguilla Cay, in the western Bahamas, and 123 taken in on Sunday after they were intercepted by officials the coast of Andros, the largest of the Bahamian islands.
A wooden boat carrying hundreds of migrants (pictured) from Haiti to America have swam to shore at an exclusive gated community Ocean Reef Club in north Key Largo, Florida yesterday
The large group of Haitians were seen draped in blue striped towels on the shore of Ocean Reef in Key Largo, clustered with piles of wet clothes nearby (pictured) after swimming to shore from the boat which stopped in shallow waters nearby
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office report that the packed-out boat beached at around 1PM GMT, with 163 of those on the boat having swum to shore (dozens of migrants pictured after swimming to shore, draped in towels)
There is estimated to be more than 500 people who have stopped between Haiti and the US which immigration officials have taken into custody.
Many who were on the boat which came into Key Largo today were in need of medical attention, said Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar of the US Border Control.
The Ocean Reef area is also becoming a common spot for large groups of Haitian migrants to arrive in South Florida.
In January, 176 people were stopped near Ocean Reef.
On Christmas Eve, Border Patrol agents took 52 people from Haiti into custody after they arrived by sailboat off a remote two-lane highway that leads to Ocean Reef called Card Sound Road.
Many who were on the boat which came into Key Largo today were in need of medical attention, said Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar of the US Border Control (pictured left, the boat tipped over on its side, and right, onlookers at Ocean Reef Club watching the migrants swim to shore)
That landing came after 63 Haitian migrants landed in almost the same location on Card Sound Road, again in an overloaded sailboat.
Ocean Reef is a private club that sets back members $11,500 a year for the luxury facilities.
It includes 36 holes of golf, 175 slip marina, tennis, a private airport, a medical center, PreK-8 school, and plenty of dining options.
There is also 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space that allows guests to have meetings and conferences.
Initial reports show that the people involved in the smuggling venture are Haitian, the US Coast Guard wrote on their Twitter account
The club is not open to the public and you are only able to visit as a member or the guest of a member.
It is not known how many of the migrants who came into Ocean Reef today were taken to nearby hospitals for medical attention.
The large group of Haitians were seen draped in blue striped towels on the shore of Ocean Reef in Key Largo, clustered with piles of wet clothes nearby.
Smugglers are often found to use the Bahamas to transit people over from Haiti, as they are seen as a ‘jumping-off point’ for getting people into the US.
The 1,083km journey can be a treacherous one with the boats often overcrowded to fill as much space as possible.
Lt Cmdr. Jason Neiman of the US Coast Guard said in a statement: ‘Multiple agencies responded quickly and worked closely to protect a lot of lives today.’
Tweets from Miami Dade Fire Department crews, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers and Monroe County sheriff’s deputies say that they assisted in the rescue operation.