Eighteen undocumented persons were arrested in Cruz Bay on Monday, March 6, after attempting to board a ferry from St. John to St. Thomas.
The V.I. Police Department received reports of possible undocumented persons around 6 a.m. Monday morning from Coral Bay residents, according to a VIPD spokesperson.
Officers made a check, said Sgt. Thomas Hannah. No one was found at that time.
The group of illegal immigrants traveled on a VITRAN bus to Cruz Bay, where they attempted to board a ferry to St. Thomas, Sgt. Hannah added.
In Cruz Bay, these individuals were trying to board a ferry to St. Thomas, said Sgt. Hannah. As they were boarding the ferry, the captain was checking tickets and realized there was a problem with their tickets.
Counterfeit Ferry Tickets
After checking further, they found that they may have been counterfeit, the VIPD spokes-person said.
The group of 14 males and four females, all adults, were arrested and turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
What they had done was taken public transportation from the Coral Bay area into Cruz Bay and attempted to get to St. Thomas, said Sgt. Hannah. They probably came in by boat to the Coral Bay area, but thats speculation. Normally, thats the way they get in.
St. John is a popular point of entry into the U.S. for immigrants, according to ICE spokesperson Ivan Ortiz.
More than 100 undocumented persons have been arrested in the territory during fiscal year 2006, including a pregnant Haitian woman who was found hiding out at the Estate Catherineberg ruins in the V.I. National Park.
An international flow of llegal immigrants from neighboring Caribbean islands predominately from Haiti and the Dominican Republic and increasingly from Cuba and as far away as China pay thousands of dollars to be brought to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This leg of the human smuggling chain typically originates in St. Martin and ends on the moonlit shores of isolated cays in the U.S.V.I. and the British Virgin Islands.