Three Dominica Nationals and 14 Haitians thought to be illegal immigrants on board a sailing vessel were detained by the St Maarten Police Force KPSM on Thursday (October 3) afternoon on suspicion of human trafficking.
According to reports from the Daily Herald St Maarten, a white and blue sailboat flying a tattered Dominica flag, docked at the pier in the vicinity of Walter Plantz Square in Philipsburg around 2:45pm Thursday when a person in the area notified authorities because they thought this occurrence to be strange, as boats rarely dock there.
The report said the sailboat originated out of Dominica having departed a few days ago.
The news article stated that after conducting a control, authorities discovered 17 persons on board the vessel.
“The crew could not give a good reason for docking in St Maarten without first clearing customs and immigration”, according to the Daily Herald.
It is unknown whether St Maarten was its intended destination or the vessel was instead compelled to dock there due to other circumstances.
Reports stated also that no drugs were found on the boat.
Both crew and passengers were taken to the Philipsburg police station for questioning. The Daily Herald understands that 14 passengers are not suspected of criminal offences and are being detained for processing by immigration.
The sailboat has also been confiscated, pending further investigations.
Police Human Smuggling Team together with the Immigration Department are busy with the investigations.
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