Police arrested seven migrants abandoned on a remote British Virgin Island by a smuggler who had told them it was U.S. soil, police said Tuesday. Five men from the Dominican Republic and two from Cuba told police that as many as 20 other migrants were on the smuggling boat that left them on sparsely inhabited Peter Island, some five miles south of Tortola, capital of the British Caribbean territory, said police spokeswoman Tamara Archibald-Gill.
The migrants were arrested late Friday. They told authorities they paid a smuggler US$1,000 ( Ђ 835) to get to the U.S. Virgin Islands from the French Caribbean island of St. Martin, said Archibald-Gill.
If the two Cubans had made it to the U.S. Virgin Islands they may have been allowed to stay. Under the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Cubans who reach U.S. soil usually are allowed to stay, and those stopped at sea are usually returned. Police were still looking into leads on the smuggler and the location of the other immigrants, Archibald-Gill said. The men were to be repatriated, though no date has been set, she said, reports the AP.