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The poachers of the Dominican Republic confronted the Royal Bahamas Defense Forces – RBDF – in a shootout on the high seas before more than 100 of them were arrested after escaping to Cuban waters.
According to a press release from the RBDF, no Bahamians were injured during the shooting, however, 124 Dominican crew members are in custody and three “wet nurses” have been seized. It is not established if any of the detained Dominicans is injured.
The arrests culminated a dramatic three-day joint operation between the RBDF, the United States Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Patrol.
On Wednesday, a cutter from the US Coast Guard With a passenger of the RBDF on board, he reported seeing a fishing vessel from the Dominican Republic north of Haiti.
The Dominicans aboard the ship indicated that they were heading to The Bahamas, the RBDF said.
After being notified, the RBDF was directed to intercept the Dominican ship in the event that it entered the waters of the Bahamas. The HMBS Madeira later saw the three boats at dawn on Saturday with skiffs in the water near Cay Lobos, a small cay at the southern end of the Great Bank of Bahama, 12 nautical miles north of central Cuba.
“Madeira deployed its sea boat with a boarding team to stop the motherships before they entered Cuban waters,” the RBDF said. “The Dominican boats opened fire on the approaching boarding team as they fled to Cuban waters. Madeira’s boarding party returned fire in self-defence.
“One of the three steel-hulled ships ran aground on Cuban waters while trying to escape. None of the members of the defence force boarding team was injured during the incident. “The defence force immediately alerted the Cuban Border Patrol to the incident and informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, which requested the assistance of the Cuban government to stop the vessels.”
The Cuban Border Patrol stopped the three ships with 124 crew members on Saturday and handed them over to HMBS Durward Knowles, who was patrolling in the southeastern Bahamas, investigating a separate report from a suspicious ship in the area.
This is the second apprehension of Dominican poaching in the year with HMBS Madeira. On July 8, the ship stopped a Dominican fishing boat that was trying to flee to Cuban waters. The captain and 46 crew members of that boat were subsequently captured, charged and fined $ 53,000 each for a total of more than $ 2.3 million.
In addition, the captain of the Dominican ship, Radhames Hernández, was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
In November 2016, HMBS Madeira also stopped two Dominican vessels in adverse weather conditions on the Old Bahama Canal. During the incident, one of the ships attempted to escape by ramming the RBDF vessel, which caused structural damage, and a member of the crew was injured.
The vessel completed repairs in February at a cost of approximately $ 250,000. The two foreign captains and the 50 crew members involved were arrested and each fined $ 50,000 for the captains and $ 20,000 for the crew, for a total of approximately $ 1.4 million in fines.
The first offenders were sentenced to six months in prison and the second offenders were sentenced to one year. The captain of the vessel that rammed Madeira was sentenced to 16 months in prison, the RBDF said.
Commodore RBDF Tellis Bethel expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided by the Cuban Border Patrol and the prompt response of the Embassy of Cuba in Nassau to coordinate the recent arrest and surrender of Dominican poachers. He also praised the brave men and women who are part of the RBDF, who risk their lives daily to defend their country.
The RBDF also said that in May of this year, the agency and the Cuban Border Patrol officials met in Cuba and discussed how their units could improve their collaborative efforts of law enforcement during the Fifth Round of Talks on the Migration between the Bahamas and Cuba.
Source: Diario digital