Coast Guard repatriates 16 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic

Coast Guard District 7 NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo repatriated 16 Dominican Republic nationals to La Romana, Dominican Republic Friday, following an at-sea interdiction Thursday, approximately four nautical miles off the northern coast of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Caribbean Border Interagency Group federal law enforcement agents in Puerto Rico detained six other Dominicans to face judicial proceedings ashore.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico agreed to file charges and prosecute three of the Dominicans on charges of illegal entry and three others for illegal reentry into a United States Territory.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders received a report from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent Thursday morning, who notified that the crew of a CBP marine surveillance aircraft had located a 21-foot migrant boat travelling illegally to Puerto Rico, approximately six nautical miles off the northwest coast of Aguadilla.

Coast Guard Watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo to interdict the migrant vessel. The Sapelo arrived on scene, interdicted the migrant vessel and embarked all 22 migrants from the grossly overloaded boat, while the crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew rescue support overhead.

The crew of the Sapelo processed the migrant’s biographical information for the 16 men and six women, including taking their digital fingerprints and facial photographs, to determine if they had any criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. Territory.

The Sapelo towed the migrant vessel and rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Añasco, Puerto Rico Thursday afternoon. CBP Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents took custody of the migrant vessel and the six Dominicans to face judicial proceedings ashore.

The crew of the Sapelo repatriated the remaining 16 migrants Friday to La Romana, Dominican Republic and turned their custody to awaiting Dominican Republic Naval authorities.

Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo is a 110 foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The CBIG Standard Operating Procedures resulted from a March 2006 collaboration of local Homeland Security components which addressed the increased flow of migrant traffic across the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Office of Bordre Patrol – Ramey Sector, the United States Attorney‘s Office, District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant smuggling

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