SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated 18 of 23 Dominican migrants to the Dominican Republic Friday and Saturday following two at-sea interdictions by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities in the Mona Passage.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico will be filing criminal charges against five of the interdicted migrants — three of which face criminal prosecution for attempted illegal entry into the United States after being ordered removed. Two face alien migrant smuggling charges.
The first migrant vessel was a grossly overloaded 20-foot boat that was detected Thursday night by the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft, approximately 27 nautical miles west northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon was diverted to interdict the migrant vessel. Upon arriving on scene, the Richard Dixon launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon IV boat that stopped the vessel and embarked the 13 men and one woman onboard due to safety of life at sea concerns.
A second migrant vessel was also detected by the crew of the Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft Friday night, approximately 46 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The Richard Dixon was diverted to interdict the 19-foot makeshift vessel. Upon arriving on scene, the Richard Dixon launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon IV boat that stopped the vessel and embarked the 7 men and two women who were onboard.
The five men facing potential prosecution were transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, while the remaining migrants were transported by the Richard Dixon and repatriated during two separate at-sea transfers of the migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Friday and Saturday just off the Dominican Republic.
The Richard Dixon is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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.