- Meryl Kornfield Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
U.S. Border Control agents early Wednesday detained nine passengers on a boat that came ashore near the Jupiter Inlet, Homeland Security Investigations said.
Eight of the passengers were foreign nationals from as far away as China and Turkey, said a spokesman for Homeland Security. They were taken into custody as part of a criminal investigation, along with one American who was aboard, and remain in custody at U.S. Border Control’s station in Riviera Beach.
The 18-foot motorized boat that carried the nine people also was seized by U.S. Border Control, said Frank Miller, a division chief.
The Homeland Security spokesman, Nestor Yglesias, declined to specify what crime agents were investigating but acknowledged that human trafficking may be part of their probe.
The boat was spotted by a Palm Beach County’s Sheriff Office helicopter at about 2:30 a.m. near the Jupiter Inlet and Homeland Security was notified, Yglesias said. Among the eight foreign nationals were two apiece from China, Turkey and Haiti, and one each from the Bahamas and Jamaica.
Jupiter police and PBSO assisted federal agents in the search for passengers who might have fled. Yglesias said law enforcement believes it found and detained all of the boat’s passengers, of whom were recovered on land.
A boat crammed with 24 people was intercepted near West Palm Beach in November. Federal agents arrested six people as part of a human trafficking investigation.