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Florida paid former Oregon aviation company $615K to fly migrants to Martha's Vineyard

Vertol Systems Company, registered under a Hillsboro address until last year, flew 50 migrants to Massachusetts as part of Florida's migrant "relocation program."

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Vertol Systems Company's relocation to Florida and subsequent payments received from the state.

The state of Florida paid $615,000 earlier this month to a formerly Oregon-based aviation company to fly 50 Venezuelan migrants to Massachusetts as part of the state's "relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations," according to Florida government records.

On Friday, the Vertol Systems Company website said it was founded in 1996 and based out of Hillsboro, although the web page later became inaccessible.

KGW visited Oregon addresses listed for the company on Friday, but no one answered.

Oregon Secretary of State records show Vertol Systems Company filed a business conversion document on October 16, 2021 to convert from an Oregon corporation to a Florida corporation. VSC listed a Destin, Florida address as it new location.

The state of Florida reports it paid VSC an additional $950,000 on Monday, September 20 for its "relocation program of unauthorized aliens." As of Tuesday, Vertol Systems Company had received close to $1.6 million in total from Florida for the transportation of migrants.

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The company's website said VSC provides customers with "specialized helicopter and aircraft solutions specific to those organization's unique requirements."

VSC's reported involvement in migrant flights brings an Oregon connection to a multi-state clash over immigration policy that's playing out on the national stage.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he flew migrants from Texas to Florida to Massachusetts as part of a relocation program in response to President Joe Biden's "damaging" immigration policies.

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"We're going to continue to use every tool in our disposal to insulate the state of Florida from the negative ramifications of [President Biden's] reckless border policies," DeSantis said. "And yes, that involved helping with transport."

In addition to the $615,000 spent on flights to Martha's Vineyard, DeSantis said he will spend up to $12 million on transporting migrants to other states.

"We're going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we're protecting the people in the state of Florida," he said.

Democrats and White House officials have criticized the practice as a cruel political stunt.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this group of Venezuelan migrants were told they were being flown to Boston and promised jobs and housing.

"[DeSantis] used them as political pawns, they treated them like chattel in a cruel, premeditated, political stunt," Jean Pierre said. "Why else would Gov. DeSantis have spent the time to charter a flight to take migrants out of a different state and hire a videographer to capture footage of that flight, but not bother to let Massachusetts officials know that migrant children in need of food and shelter were about to land on their doorstep?"

Vertol Systems Company received payment from Florida on Sept. 8, per Florida records, six days before two planes carrying the migrants arrived in Massachusetts.

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