TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Planning the flights that transported 48 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard began months before two chartered jets landed in Massachusetts in September.
Documents released by the state show the winning bid from Vertrol Systems Company, which has a Florida headquarters in Destin, was submitted on Aug. 2.
The price for the Sept. 14 flight, according to the records, was $615,000 for two flights for “up to 50 passengers.” That put the price per migrant at nearly $13,000.
The documents also indicate the state has also paid Vertrol $950,000 about a week after the first flights, but it is unclear why the company received that money.
Around the time of the second payment, a second flight to President Joseph Biden’s home state of Delaware was scheduled but later canceled.
Vertrol has not responded to requests for comment.
8 On Your Side filed a request for the documents connected to the invoice for the Delaware flight, but the state has yet to release those records.
The documents provided stated Vertrol’s services will be on an “ongoing, month-to-month basis.”
The governor’s staff has not responded to questions about why the planes that took off from Texas landed in Crestview, Florida, instead of taking a more direct and less expensive route north.
The documents released by the state make no mention of landing in Florida.
But the paperwork did include the law that outlines the $12 million Florida Department of Transportation Relocation Program.
That statute states the money will be used “to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.”
The program guidelines we obtained also state the vendor must follow “federal and state law.”
Federal law prohibits transporting unauthorized aliens within the United States, whether from city to city or state to state. Penalties for violating that law are enhanced if anyone does it for personal gain.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’s staff has not responded to a question about whether anyone violated federal immigration law by transporting “unauthorized aliens” into Florida before their flight north.
On Monday, an indication the Martha’s Vineyard flights are still fresh on the minds of New Englanders came out of Nantucket. Police in that island town provided an alert about a flight from Chicago to the island, set to land there tomorrow.
Police were told that the flight had “many similarities” to the flights to the Vineyard.
But late Monday morning, Nantucket Police Lt. Angus MacVicar said the plane charter company confirmed: “the flight will be carrying executives from an investment company.“
“We believe this information to be credible,” MacVicar said. “Nothing further.”
Sam Sachs and Mark LaMet contributed to this story.