Coast Guard Searching For 39 Missing People After Finding Capsized Boat Possibly Used In Human Smuggling

The United States Coast Guard is searching for 39 missing people Tuesday after a good Samaritan found and saved a man on a capsized vessel off the coast of Florida, according to the Coast Guard.

The good Samaritan found the vessel and survivor on Tuesday and notified the Coast Guard around 8 a.m. Eastern, the Coast Guard said in a press release.

The boat set sail Saturday night from Bimini, Bahamas, according to the Coast Guard. The survivor said that he was one of 40 people on board the vessel which capsized after encountering severe weather on its journey. The survivor added that no one on board was wearing a life jacket.

The Coast Guard suspects the vessel was involved in human smuggling. The Coast Guard stated that air and search asset crews are searching over a roughly 135-mile area ranging from Bimini to Fort Pierce Inlet in Florida. (RELATED: Smuggling At The Canadian Border: Authorities Arrest Man From Florida, Find Family Of Four Frozen To Death)

The Coast Guard reported they began the search at 8:20 a.m. Tuesday morning. So far, the Coast Guard has searched over 1,300 square miles, according to the press release.

Human smugglers take advantage of victims in the Bahamas, as well as other Caribbean countries, for sex trafficking and forced labor, according to a 2021 State Department report on human trafficking. The report suggests that traffickers have taken advantage of an unemployment surge caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, luring victims with false employment promises.

Bryan Babb