Coast Guard Interdicts 12 Human Smugglers, At-Sea Biometrics Utilized

MIAMI – Coast Guard crews interdicted 12 suspected migrants smugglers throughout the Florida Keys this weekend and utilized at-sea biometrics to positively identify each person to the US-VISIT databases.

The Coast Guard began conducting at-sea biometrics collections of suspected smugglers in the Florida Straits in April. The program was initiated in the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in Nov. 2006 and uses technology to compare fingerprint data against US-VISIT databases. The databases include information about wanted criminals, immigration violators, and those who have previously encountered government authorities.

“The identification, prosecution and deterrence of migrant smugglers are key ingredients toward enhancing our border security,” said Rear Adm. Wayne Justice, director of response policy for the Coast Guard. “Having this immediate feedback to ascertain criminal activity with certainty is essential to the prosecution and application of consequences to prevent the highly dangerous mode of at-sea illegal-migrant smuggling.”

Last week 10 suspected migrant smugglers were interdicted by Coast Guard and CBP crews and turned over to CBP-Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The 12 individuals will also be turned over to CBP-Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Enforcement investigators for further questioning.

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