15 Arrested in Maritime Smuggling Bust Near President's Private Club

palm beach
Palm Beach (file image courtesy Michael Kagdis / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Published Nov 15, 2020 12:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday morning, 15 foreign nationals were arrested by federal agents near Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach, Florida. 

According to Chief Patrol Agent John R. Madlin from the U.S. Border Patrol's Miami Sector, the individuals were involved in an unspecified "maritime smuggling event." The number and nationality of the perpetrators - 14 Haitians and one Bahamian - is consistent with patterns of human trafficking and illegal immigration. 

The suspects arrived in a 26-foot speedboat and ran it onto the beach, then fled on foot. All were apprehended by Border patrol agents, and they will be processed for deportation. The boat has been seized. 

“Fortunately, no members of the group were injured during this dangerous journey across rough seas. Smugglers are not concerned with the safety of the people they are smuggling, rather they continue to put the lives of migrants at risk," the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office told local media in a statement. "We work with our investigative partners to prosecute the smugglers associated with these events. The event is still under investigation."

Migrant landings and detentions are a periodic occurrence in Palm Beach. Four foreign nationals were arrested in connection with a human trafficking event in the area in January 2020, and 25 were detained in an interdiction off the coast of Palm Beach in mid-October.