ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Records show the state of Florida recently paid $615,000 to an Oregon-based aviation company as part of what the DeSantis administration calls a state "relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations."
The payment to Vertol Systems Company Inc. was completed on Thursday, Sept. 8, according to the government site — just six days before two planes carrying migrants arrived at Martha's Vineyard at Gov. Ron DeSantis' direction.
DeSantis speaking during a news conference on Friday said 50 people were transported. The Associated Press reports that 48 Venezuelan migrants were told they were going to Boston and they would have a job and housing.
"I think what we’re continuing to do is use every tool at our disposal to insulate the state of Florida from the negative ramifications of [Biden's] reckless border policies. And, yes, that involves helping with transport," the governor said.
Vertol Systems' website shows the company has a location in Destin, Florida.
Two flights landed Wednesday afternoon at Martha's Vineyard that both originated from San Antonio, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. Both made stops at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, located in the Florida Panhandle— waiting 43 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively — before making another stop in the Carolinas and reaching Massachusetts.
"Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations," DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said in an earlier statement. "States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as 'sanctuary states' and support for the Biden Administration’s open border policies."
10 Tampa Bay has reached out to the Department of Transportation and Vertol Systems for comment but has not yet heard back.