Following a public tip, Joint Task Force officers detained about 23 migrants on the south side of Virgin Gorda on March 23, Customs Commissioner Wade Smith told the Beacon on Monday.
After receiving information about a suspicious vessel in the area, JTF officers were deployed to the area in the early afternoon and apprehended the migrants, Mr. Smith said.
“I would really like to say thanks to the public for [the] continued support, and if you see something, say something,” Mr. Smith said, adding, “It’s for all our safety and our protection.”
Citing security concerns, Mr. Smith declined to say where the migrants were being held, though he confirmed that they were all under the Immigration Department’s supervision.
The detainees are all adults of “various different ages” from “various countries,” Mr. Smith added.
In recent months, the Immigration Department has sometimes struggled to detain captured migrants, who are often housed at Hotel Castle Maria.
Eight migrants escaped from the hotel this month, and one escaped from the airport in February. In late January, customs officers detained 30 migrants near Kingstown.
“I don’t think that Castle Maria … was designed for as many persons as we tend to get sometimes,” Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley said at a Friday press conference.
He added that the detained migrants pose “a security challenge for police officers … to manage. I cannot say why they’re escaping.”