US detains 84 Haitians abandoned off Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Smugglers abandoned 84 men and women from Haiti on a deserted island off the west coast of Puerto Rico, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Friday.

Jeffrey Quinones said the Haitians were spotted by a U.S. Coast Guard air patrol on the island of Desecheo, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) from the Puerto Rican mainland. Two Coast Guard cutters ferried the men and women to Puerto Rico on Friday.

Quinones says it’s not uncommon for migrant smugglers to leave people on the small islands off western Puerto Rico, falsely telling the people they have reached their destination. He said two women were hospitalized for non-life-threatening reasons but the rest of the 82 passengers appeared in good health.

They will likely be deported back to their homeland.

Several hundred Haitians have been detained trying to enter Puerto Rico this year.

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