Police released a 911 call from a person who was aboard a capsized boat in waters off Miami Beach. Four women died in the capsize and 11 people were rescued. Authorities believe it may have been a human smuggling operation.
Authorities have arrested six of the 11 people who were rescued from waters off Miami Beach after the boat they were in capsized, killing four women.
The captain of the boat, Naaman Davis, crewman George Lewis and four others were arrested in the Wednesday morning incident that is believed to be a smuggling operation, according to federal court records obtained by the Miami Herald.
Sean Gaynor, Kenard Hagigal, Matthew Williams and Everton Jones, who is also known as Everton Bryce, were also arrested in the incident.
According to the records, the small boat left the Bahamas carrying 15 people from the Bahamas, Haiti and Jamaica. None of them had permission to enter the U.S.
Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard responded to reports of a capsized vessel about seven nautical miles east of Government Cut, where they found nine people clinging to the 25-foot boat.
The bodies of the four women were later found near the boat. Authorities haven't identified them or the other people who were on the boat.
The Coast Guard said the center console of the boat had been ripped out, and there were no lifevests or navigation equipment on board. One of the people who was clinging to the boat was able to call 911, the Coast Guard said.
In the 911 call, released by Miami-Dade Police Friday, several people can be heard yelling and screaming in the background.
"We 25 miles out from South Beach, we need a rescue out here bad," the caller said, as the yelling and screaming continued. "The boat is sinking."
The call abruptly ended as more screaming was heard.
According to the court records, Lewis told the migrants on the boat to lie about who was captaining the vessel.
"Another one of the migrants interviewed stated that prior to their being brought ashore, Lewis had directed them all to tell the Coast Guard that the vessel captain swam away and never came back," a report said.
The records said all of the migrants arrested had previously been deported from the U.S., most after being convicted of serious crimes.
Lewis, of Jamaica, was deported in May following a drug trafficking conviction and Davis was deported in March. Williams was deported last year and Jones was deported in 2010 following drug convictions. Hagigal was deported last year following a federal money laundering conviction and Gaynor was deported in 2011 after being in the country illegally.
"This case does fit the profile of a typical smuggling event," Coast Guard spokesman Darren Caprara said Wednesday. "It occurred in the wee hours of the night, it was a group of people who claim to be from foreign countries, detected inside our waters, and then sadly again there's a clear disregard for boating safety."
The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice are still investigating the incident.