By MIAMI HERALD STAFF REPORT
A boatload of migrants came ashore near Haulover Beach Monday evening, sparking a nighttime manhunt for a number who got away, officials said. Another 13 were caught near the landing site near 156th Street and Collins Avenue.
Federal agents turned out in force, using helicopters to search for the migrants who fled after apparently being smuggled to the U.S. shore.
The people on the boat were reportedly from Haiti, Jamaica and Sri Lanka.
Nicole Navas, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency was “investigating to determine if this was a human smuggling venture or if any other criminal activity was involved.”
ICE had 13 migrants in custody; Navas could not give an estimate for the number who fled.
She said the nationalities of the migrants would be determined when they are interviewed.
Horacio Borghini, a security guard at the Tropicana Condominium at 15645 Collins Ave., said at 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 on shore.
“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.”