Coast Guard catches suspected human smuggler, 14 migrants headed for US

Fifteen people, including a U.S. resident suspected of human smuggling, were taken to Miami on Tuesday after they were found apparently trying to enter the country illegally earlier this week, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

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The suspected smuggler, who was identified as a Cuban national and legal permanent U.S. resident, is under investigation, Coast Guard officials said.

"These smuggling operations and illicit networks care nothing about the people who put their lives and money in their hands," said Coast Guard 7th District Chief of Enforcement Capt. Mark Gordon. "They callously risk both their passengers' and the public's lives."

The group was spotted Tuesday by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane crew on a vessel near the Bahamas. About 40 miles separate the country's coast from the southern coast of Florida.

A Customs and Border Patrol boat crew attempted to stop the vessel about 12 miles southeast of Government Cut in Miami. The vessel did not stop.

Officials fired warning shots and disabling fire at the vessel, Coast Guard officials said. The group disembarked the vessel after U.S. Coast Guard cutter Paul Clark arrived.

Authorities found 15 people on board. Of them, 14 were illegal migrants from four countries: one from Ecuador, one from Jamaica, six from China and six from Sri Lanka, Coast Guard officials said. The unnamed suspected smuggler appeared to be operating the vessel.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.