SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated 23 Dominicans just off La Romana, Dominican Republic Monday morning following an at-sea interdiction by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities Saturday afternoon, approximately 20 nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico will be filing a criminal complaint against eight of the migrants interdicted, 7 Dominicans and one Brazilian, who are facing potential criminal prosecution for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States.
One other migrant traveling with the group was not repatriated pending further immigration processing.
The crew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine maritime patrol aircraft on a routine patrol of the area, detected the migrants traveling aboard a grossly overloaded wooden boat with 31 Dominican and one Brazilian migrants onboard, 26 men and six women. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark, while a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action Marine Unit from Añasco also responded to interdict the migrant vessel. The Puerto Rico Police marine unit, with the assistance of the CBP aircrew, arrived on scene and stopped the migrant vessel.
Shortly thereafter, the Paul Clark arrived on scene, embarked the migrants and conducted their biometric processing to determine if any had a previous criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States.
The Paul Clark transferred custody of the migrants facing prosecution to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Sunday. The remaining migrants were transported by the Paul Clark to Dominican Republic waters, where they were transferred to a Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat Monday morning just off La Romana.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney‘s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
The Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in Miami, Fla.