Coast Guard Repatriates 13 Dominicans, 1 Migrant Detained

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing repatriated 13 Dominican migrants today to La Romana, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction yesterday.

One migrant was identified through the use of biometrics(digital fingerprints and photographs) as having a history of illegal immigration in the United States or a U.S. territory. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained the migrant for attempting to illegally re-enter U.S. territory for the fifth time.

The crew of the Matinicus transferred custody of the detained migrant to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez today, for further processing in anticipation of filing of charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter initially located the migrant yola traveling illegally to Puerto Rico at 12 p.m. yesterday, approximately 38 nautical miles north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The migrants were observed by the crew of the Dolphin helicopter placing a blue tarp over the yola in an attempt to conceal the yola and avoid detection.

Coast Guard controllers immediately diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to intercept the migrant yola. The Matinicus interdicted the 20-foot-white yola at aprroximately 1:30 p.m. yesterday and the crew safely embarked the migrants to the cutter.

The Matinicus rendezvoused with Cushing at approximately 3:30 a.m. today and transferred 13 of the migrants to the Cushing for repatriation to La Romana, Dominican Republic. The detained migrant remained aboard the Matinicus until his custody was transferred to Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez today.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard/U.S. Visit Biometrics Proof of Concept, Biometric data on 674 migrants has been collected during 30 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 28 migrants have been brought ashore for filing of charges and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The biometric capability employed in this case provides the Coast Guard with an important tool to definitively establish the identity of those interdicted at sea who may attempt to enter or re-enter the United States illegally, or who may pose a threat to national security.

Collecting biometric identification supports the U.S. Government’s efforts to target human smugglers and protect migrants put at risk attempting to enter the United States illegally from the sea.

Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus and Cushing are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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