ILLEGAL VESSEL INTERCEPTION ON MAY 31, 2020

On Sunday May 31, 2020, at approximately 9:06 p.m. the Department of Immigration received a telephone call from Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Marine Branch informing that reliable information was received that a vessel carrying illegal migrants was in the territorial waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands and more specifically, close to Providenciales.

Immigration Officers were immediately dispatched and conducted patrols near the areas of possibility of landings with the assistance of the Police.

At approximately 11:14 p.m. another report was received indicating that the Police Marine Branch had intercepted an illegal vessel.

The blue wooden sloop was towed to South Dock Providenciales by the Police with one hundred and thirty-five persons (136) persons on board including thirty-one (31) females.  They were all handed over to the Department of Immigration and taken to Gustavus Lightbourne Sporting Complex where they are being processed.

This is the ninth illegal migrant interception for 2020 undertaken by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force with assistance from other stakeholders, compared to three (3) landings in 2019.

Prior to last night’s interception, for the year 2020, seven hundred and ninety (790) persons have been repatriated from illegal vessels compared to eight hundred and forty-five (845) persons during the same period in 2019.

All detainees are being screened by the Ministry of Health and efforts are advancing with the assistance of the Haitian Government for swift repatriation of these persons.

The Enforcement agencies of the Turks and Caicos Islands are again appealing to persons with information concerning planned and landed arrival of illegal person. Additionally, the marine community assistance is required on poachers’ activities and any suspicious movements. You are asked to contact the Police anonymously on 911 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1-800-8477 TIPS.

The Hon Vaden Williams, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services, in his comments expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to all agencies involved in this successful apprehension and encouraged them to keep to the great work.

The Hon Minister further acknowledged that the combined efforts of the Turks and Caicos Islands Marine Branch, the United States Coast, Bahamas Defense Force, Royal UK Marines and the Enforcement Unit of the TCI Immigration Department, are doing a great job in protecting our borders, noting that the last vessel intercepted was back in April 2020, when a total of 225 illegal Haitian migrants were repatriated to Haiti.

The General public is reminded that it is an offence to harbour or assist illegal persons and that persons found guilty engaging in such activities are liable to a fine of US$20,000 or a term of imprisonment of four years, or both in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance 2018 Revised or any law.

The public is also requested to provide the Police with tips or any information related to this or any other illegal landing. We encourage the public to submit information or tips anonymously in English, French or Spanish on either to www.crimestoppers.tc or on Facebook as a fan of Crime Stoppers Turks & Caicos. Crime Stoppers tips are received in the USA.