Cubans use Mexico to avoid US patrols

Mexican sea patrol / AP Photo

Cuban migrants are finding it so hard to dodge the U.S. Coast Guard and reach Florida to qualify for U.S. residency that they're now heading for Mexico, then overland to Texas.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says 11,126 used that route last year, compared to just 1,055 who landed in the Miami area.

Evidence of this new escape route is stacking up at a Mexican Navy yard in Isla Mujeres, where the dock regularly runs out of space for seized Florida boats.

During a visit to the small Navy dock last week, The Associated Press counted eight super-fast boats, all with Florida registration numbers.

Mexican authorities are getting fed up, and islanders fear the trafficking is bringing crime to the laid-back Navy yard near Cancun.

The problem has grown so acute that Cuban foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque is making a rare visit to Mexico to discuss solutions.

Thefts of boats for smuggling are so frequent that some insurance companies require Florida owners to equip their boats with GPS satellite tracking systems.