MIAMI – Six people who were on a small boat that capsized in the waters off South Florida now face federal charges, according to court documents filed Thursday.
Four people died when the overloaded boat capsized early Wednesday seven miles east of Miami. Eleven survivors were rescued and taken into federal custody. U.S. immigration authorities are investigating.
According to documents filed in Miami federal court, the boat had departed from the Bahamas, and all the survivors were from Jamaica, Haiti and the Bahamas.
One of the survivors, a Jamaican citizen, was spotted by another member of the group speaking with a known human smuggler in the Bahamas days before the journey began, and he was identified as a “the crewman” of the vessel, according to an affidavit.
He also told the group before the rescue to tell the Coast Guard that the boat’s captain swam away, according to the affidavit.
The Jamaican man faces a charge of attempted smuggling. Along with one Bahamian citizen and four other Jamaicans, he also faces a charge of attempting to illegally enter the U.S. after being deported.
It was not immediately clear Thursday where they or the remaining five survivors were being detained.
Migrants routinely attempt to illegally reach Florida’s coast in overloaded or unseaworthy vessels, often through established smuggling networks that include islands in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.