LINK BY JENNIFER BABSON. Knight Ridder Newspapers.
NAPLES, Fla. - (KRT) - Cuban migrant smugglers, who for years have brought people from the island to remote spots in the Keys, have adopted a new strategy to get around the heavily patrolled waters off the Keys:= Launch their smuggling missions from Collier County in Southwest Florida.
The cat-and-mouse shift has everyone, including the Coast Guard and Collier County sheriff's deputies, trying to keep up.
''Criminals look to take advantage of vulnerabilities,'' said Lt. Tony Russell, spokesman for the Coast Guard in Miami. ``We are working hard to minimize those. The Florida Straits covers from Cay Sal in the east, to the Marquesas in the west. That's 25,000 square miles of ocean.''
The increase in smuggling from Collier has been accompanied by another tactic: dropping off the Cuban migrants in the remote Dry Tortugas and Marquesas Islands well off Key West, rather than the Keys mainland. Both are closer to Cuba and harder to patrol....