Human smuggling incidents under investigation

Posted: Sep 15, 2009 5:10 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 15, 2009 5:25 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY: There have been two human smuggling related incidents in the last 24 hours. In Lee County, six Cuban immigrants were discovered at a Fort Myers gas station. In Collier County, deputies discovered a 'go fast' boat loaded with barrels of fuel.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers first spotted the 28 Sea Fox 'go fast' boat off Gordon's Pass while approaching a boat for a routine compliance check.

"The vessel basically, after they turned their blue lights on, started making reckless movements erratic type driving. It actually took the Coast Guard to get the vessel stopped," said Joanne Adams of FWC.

FWC seized the 'go fast' boat after they discovered the four men on board had 40, 15-gallon containers of gasoline.

"That's a lot of fuel," said Adams.

FWC officers arrested the four men on board for unauthorized transportation of gasoline.

Officers say the boat was being used as a "re-fueler" in a human smuggling operation.

What they don't know is if that operation was at all related to six Cuban immigrants who landed somewhere in Southwest Florida Monday afternoon.

"I was just minding my own business and then they asked me if I could call immigration," said witness Hervin Alvate.

Border patrol says the five men and one woman were at sea for a little less than a week. They ended up a gas station in Tice.

"Two patrol cars came over here and started investigating," said Alvate.

The group was treated for severe sunburn before Border Patrol agents took them to an east coast immigration facility.

The group traveled on two different boats, but there's no description on the second boat.

Multiple agencies are investigating whether the 'go fast' boat is related to the Cubans coming ashore.