Two boats with 10 Cuban migrants are pictured anchored in Cayman Brac waters on July 20, 2014 in the Cayman Islands.
August 6, 2014 10:15 AM EDT

The number of illegal migrants apprehended while trying to reach the United States by sea from Haiti and Cuba has hit a five-year high, Coast Guard officials said.

Over 4,300 Haitians have either been stopped at sea or are known to have arrived in Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland since Oct. 1, while the number of Cubans stands at 2,985, NBC reports, a total of around 850 more than last year.

Coast Guard officials said they are the highest numbers of the last five years.

The journey is dangerous and many Haitians and Cubans drown along the way, federal officials say.

The surge in captured migrants comes partly due to aggressive activity by Haitian smugglers, as well as relaxed travel policies introduced under Cuban President Raul Castro.


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