SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon returned four Dominicans, one Haitian and 13 Indian migrants to the Dominican Republic Friday, after they were interdicted in the Mona Passage Wednesday while travelling illegally to Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico will file a criminal complaint to prosecute one of the Dominican migrant men, who had a criminal history in the United States, on charges of attempted illegal re-entry by a prior agravated felon into the United States.
The illegal migrant voyage consisted of a 20-foot grossly overloaded wooden-makeshift-vessel that was detected by the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 maritime patrol aircraft on a routine patrol Wednesday afternoon, approximately 35 nautical miles north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber to carry out the interdiction. The Bernard C. Webber arrived on scene and interdicted the migrant boat with 18 men and one woman onboard.
The Bernard C. Webber cutter boat supplied the migrants with life jackets before embarking the migrants and provided them with food, water, and shelter. They also conducted biometric processing on the migrants to determine if any had a previous criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. Territory.
The Bernard C. Webber later rendezvoused with the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon and transferred 18 of the migrants for transport to the Dominican Republic. On Thursday, the remaining Dominican migrant aboard the Bernard C. Webber was transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, who placed the man in custody to face judicial proceedings in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico.
The Richard Dixon returned the other 18 migrants to the Dominican Republic during an at-sea transfer of the migrants to a Dominican Navy patrol vessel Friday just south of La Romana, Dominican Republic.
“These migrants undertook a perilous journey and their lives were endangered by traveling aboard a grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessel without any lifesaving equipment.” said. Cmdr. Heather Kelly, Sector San Juan chief of response. “They are very fortunate to have survived.”
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Coast Guard Bernard C. Webber is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in Miami.