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Boat Sinking Leads To Smuggling Investigation

Biscayne National Park

National Park News

Rangers Didier Carod and Bradon Falls responded to a report of a vessel sinking near a reef on the ocean side of Elliott Key this past Monday. When they arrived, they found no one near the sunken boat, so a search was begun with assistance from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, the Coast Guard, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Park volunteers soon reported finding a man walking around Elliott Key harbor who said he was from the sunken boat. Carod contacted the man, identified as Deivi Machado, and found that he was the boat’s only occupant. Machado said that the boat started taking on water once he cleared the bay and headed east into open ocean. He made some calls before the vessel went under, then wrapped himself in four life jackets and swam about two miles to shore in the middle of the night. Machado said he spent the rest of the day walking around the island, trying to find someone who could help him. Further investigation revealed that the sunken vessel was a 27-foot-long Wellcraft that did not belong to him and that it had six 30-gallon drums full of gasoline on the bow – a frequent hallmark of boats employed in smuggling aliens and/or drugs, as they need additional fuel to make the journey to Cuba or the Bahamas. Because of this and because Biscayne is known for smuggling operations, the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection are investigating this incident as a smuggling incident. 


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