Diaspora

BVI officials detain 20 Haitian natives on Virgin Gorda – Virgin Islands Daily News

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Updated: January 17, 2023 @ 6:39 am

TORTOLA — A spokeswoman for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force said Monday that a British Virgin Islands joint task force detained 20 Haitian natives on the island of Virgin Gorda.
Details were sketchy on Monday, but spokesperson Diane Drayton noted in a brief statement that the task force, comprised of members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Her Majesty’s Customs, detained 12 men, four women and four children – no ages given — on Monday near the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor.
The statement, which described the detainees as “illegal immigrants” lacked details as to when they were apprehended, and did not clarify whether they were on island and rounded up as part of ongoing border security or whether the 20 had recently been dropped off in a possible smuggling operation. A statement by the Immigration Department, however, alluded to “suspicious activities” at sea, and calls seeking details were not returned as of Daily News press time this morning.
Drayton, in a statement earlier, said “officers believe there are likely more illegal immigrants on the island and therefore asked the residents to be on the lookout.”
That news release was followed by one from Chief Immigration Officer Ian Penn, who said that the 20 people were in the custody of his department following an exercise by the officers of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and Immigration Department that was carried out on Virgin Gorda.
According to Penn, the Haitian natives “will be safely detained following intake interviews and COVID-19 testing administered by the BVI Health Service Authority.”
Penn urged persons residing in the territory “to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities at sea.”
Police urged anyone with information related to the detainees to call the Immigration Department at 28-468-4717 or the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force hotline at 311.
The joint task force will continue to ensure the safety of residents as the “security of the territory’s borders is paramount,” according to the Immigration Department.

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