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32 suspected Cuban migrants found hiding in boat being hauled in the Keys

A curious Florida deputy stopped the truck pulling the boat and began asking questions.
Credit: MCSO - Florida Keys

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. — Thirty-two suspected Cuban migrants were found hiding in a boat being towed by a rental truck.

The truck was stopped Monday morning on US-1 in the Florida Keys. Two pregnant women and three young children, ages 1-5, were among the people in the go-fast boat it was hauling.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says the 29-year-old Seffner man driving the truck was arrested and charged with child neglect because none of the kids had seatbelts or car seats. Deputies identified him as Reidel Garcia-Espino.

A sergeant initially stopped the truck after seeing the trailer being towed slowly along, well under the speed limit.

"Garcia-Espino said they had been fishing, but there was no fishing gear on the boat," the sheriff's office wrote in a news release.

Authorities say the sergeant was overwhelmed by the "smell of saltwater and body odor" when he walked up.

Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents were dispatched, as well as Key Colony Beach police officers and officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The suspected migrants were turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Deputies say federal charges are possible in the case. But those would be left up to any of the federal agencies involved, as opposed to the local sheriff's office.

Credit: MCSO - Florida Keys

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