SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated a group of 16 migrants Monday to Dominican Republic Navy authorities in waters just off the Dominican Republic.
The repatriated migrants were part of a group of 22 (20 Dominicans, and two U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico), who were interdicted Saturday by the Coast Guard in waters between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Four of the interdicted migrants are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges in Puerto Rico.
“The coordination and efficient response between the Coast Guard crews involved in this case allowed for the safe removal of 16 men and four women, including a woman who was four-months pregnant, from a grossly overloaded boat,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Douglas, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “The Coast Guard, together with our local and federal law enforcement partner agencies from the Caribbean Border Interagency Group, remains vigilant and committed to stopping these illegal voyages at-sea.”
The interdiction took place at approximately 3 a.m. Saturday, after a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a 20-foot migrant vessel transiting in the Mona Passage without the use of navigation lights. The Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant interdicted the boat, provided lifejackets and embarked all passengers from the migrant vessel.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
The Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Florida.
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.