- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

KEY WEST, Fla., Feb. 7 (UPI) — Four members of the Cuban Coast Guard arrived in Key West and surrendered to police Friday, a police spokesman said.

Public Information Officer Cynthia Edwards said they left Cuba in a "go-fast" patrol boat at 1 a.m. and arrived three hours later in Key West where police confiscated two AK-47 assault weapons and a Chinese-made handgun.

"They men were taken to the Monroe County Detention Center where they are awaiting pickup by the Border Patrol. They're on their way now," Edwards said.

Under the nation's wet-foot, dry-foot policy, the four men are likely to be allowed to remain in the United States, although they are expected to undergo debriefing and other processing before they are released.

Under the policy, if a Cuban refugee is intercepted at sea, he or she is returned to Cuba. But refugees who make it to shore without detection are usually allowed to stay.

The issues of homeland security, and how an armed military vessel was able to reach the United States undetected was not immediately addressed.

Edwards said a police officer "was patrolling in 'Old Town' when he was approached by four men in camouflage uniforms from the Cuban Coast Guard. One of the men had a holstered Chinese handgun. He held his hand away from the gun and the officer took it from him."

She said he also had two fully loaded ammunition magazines.

Another man told the officer he was a 14-year veteran of the Cuban Coast Guard.

She said officers found the boat docked at the Hyatt Resort Marina. "They had docked there and started walking around Key West," she said.

Investigators found two AK47 assault weapons and eight fully loaded magazines aboard the speed boat.

The U.S. Coast Guard took the boat to the Key West Coast Guard Station.


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