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Lankans arrested in Miami

13 April 2010 05:18 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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US authorities have accounted for 14 passengers including four Sri Lankans aboard a suspected human smuggling boat that came ashore near Haulover Beach in Miami on Monday evening, but concede more might have slipped away, the Miami Herald reported.

Men and women from Jamaica, Haiti and Sri Lanka were in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody Tuesday afternoon and face deportation.

Also on the boat: roughly $11,000 in American and Bahamian currency, according Nicole Navas, an ICE spokeswoman.

One of the people rounded up allegedly struck a Miami-Dade cop and has been charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, Navas said.

While identities of those caught have not been released, ICE did make public their nations of origin: From Haiti, two women, one man and one 16-year-old girl; from Jamaica, four men and two women; and from Sri Lanka, four men.

Aside from the assault, no criminal charges have been filed, and Navas would not say if law enforcement had determined who was behind the operation.

Furthermore, officials Tuesday were still looking for any additional migrants who may have gotten away in the mayhem the night before.

Federal agents had turned out in force, using helicopters to search for the migrants who fled after the boat landed near 156th Street and Collins Avenue.

Horacio Borghini, a security guard at the nearby Tropicana Condominium, said about 7 p.m. he saw two young, barefoot men ``running away, desperately crossing Collins Avenue. A lot of cars stopped suddenly, and the men went across the street, getting lost in the plants.''

``After that, I saw about 12 to 15 people also running away, jumping over the little wall on our property heading to Collins Avenue. Then I saw a police officer, with `special agent' on his brown uniform, pointing a gun at two people. He was ordering them to the floor. He said to me to call 911.''

Within minutes, helicopters filled the air and police and federal agents flooded the area, Borghini said. The yacht that had carried the migrants was visible from shore, the Miami Herald reported.

``It was a big, exciting moment, like a Hollywood moment,'' he said.

``With the helicopters flying so low, it looked like Vietnam. Everybody came out to see what was going on. It was frankly very sad, to see poor people, immigrants looking for freedom, probably.'' 

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