I-TEAM: How much Florida paid to fly 48 migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard

Records show the state of Florida paid a little more than $600,000 for what’s been described as the “relocation of unauthorized aliens”.

And as attorneys representing some of the migrants are looking into whether laws were violated, Governor Ron DeSantis is reiterating his concerns about the situation at the nation’s southern border.

“It is a crisis, and it’s a manufactured crisis,” DeSantis said.

Speaking to a crowd in Kansas over the weekend, Governor Ron DeSantis says the U.S./Mexico border is one place in our country where we see virtually no law and order. The governor is taking credit for the unannounced flight of 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which he says was part of the state’s relocation program to transport migrants to sanctuary cities.

“If you’re going to support open borders, then you should have to deal with the consequences of open borders,” DeSantis said.

A state financial transparency website shows the Florida Department of Transportation paid $615,000 to Vertol Systems Company, on September 8th.

The payment is described as being for the “relocation program of unauthorized aliens” and the money came from the state’s general revenue fund.

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Vertol Systems Company had been based in Oregon – but relocated its headquarters to Destin – in the Florida Panhandle – a few years ago.

The company website isn’t up right now – but an archived version shows they provide customers with “helicopter and aircraft solutions.”

They’ve worked for the Department of Defense in the past – on training programs.

Last week – two chartered planes took off from San Antonio, then made a stop in Crestview in the panhandle.

Each plane then made another stop in the Carolinas – before landing in Martha’s Vineyard.

Attorneys representing the Venezuelan migrants are exploring legal remedies, calling for a federal and state investigation. Ivan Espinoza with civil rights Boston represents 39 of the transported migrants. He says the ordeal is a political stunt that he hopes will lead to criminal charges.

“The charges are a broad range of criminal and potentially civil actions including human trafficking, fraud, kidnapping among many others,” Espinoza said.

Democrats in the Florida House want state Republicans to block the money the governor is using for these flights.

They say although the budget includes $12 million for migrant relocation – the money is for relocating people who are in the U.S. illegally and are found in Florida – which they say, doesn’t cover these flights.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.