Joint Task Force officers on Sunday apprehended 15 migrants after responding to reports of an abandoned vessel on Anegada, barely a month after detaining 23 migrants during a similar operation on Virgin Gorda.
The migrants captured on Sunday are now in the custody of the Immigration Department, and they include Haitians, Colombians and Romanians, according to a Tuesday press release from the agency.
The press release did not say how many of the migrants were men, women and children, and attempts to reach Chief Immigration Officer Ian Penn were not successful.
The migrants were “safely detained following intake interviews and Covid-19 testing administered by the BVI Health Service Authority,” according to the department.
“The Immigration Department and members of the [JTF] will continue to increase their capabilities by ensuring that cohesive plans are executed in a manner that will ensure the safety of residents as the security of the territory’s borders is paramount,” the release stated.
Anyone with information about these migrants should contact the department at 468-4717 or 468-4715, or call the police hotline at 311, according to the press release.
Sunday’s operation is at least the third time this year that more than a dozen migrants have been detained in a single sweep, and law enforcement appears to be struggling under the influx of migrants landing on VI shores.
Less than two weeks before the JTF intercepted 23 migrants on VG, Mr. Penn reported that eight migrants had recently escaped detention, and in late February a Haitian man escaped custody after being escorted to the immigration office at Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.
In December, police in riot gear responded to the Hotel Castle Maria after at least one immigration detainee allegedly began throwing stones at guards in an apparent escape attempt.