Coast Guard repatriates 22 Dominicans, Detains 10 others for Prosecution

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard cutter personnel and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents discovered 32 Dominicans traveling illegally from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico aboard a migrant boat Saturday night.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo repatriated 22 of the Dominican migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic Sunday, following an at-sea interdiction by Department of Homeland Security law enforcement authorities Saturday, while the 10 other Dominican migrants were brought ashore for prosecution.

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Dash-8 aircraft detected and tracked the migrant boat Saturday night while patrolling Mona Passage waters, approximately 23 nautical miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to the scene. The Key Largo interdicted the migrant vessel late Saturday night embarking 21 men and 11 women, who requested to be taken off the 25-foot grossly overloaded boat that was disabled and adrift. The crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew rescue support at the scene, while the migrants disembarked their boat and went on board the Key Largo.

The crew of the Key Largo collected the migrant’s biometric information and destroyed the yola as a hazard to navigation. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained 10 Dominicans, nine men and one woman, for attempting to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. Territory on multiple occasions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute their cases.

The Key Largo proceeded to rendezvous with U.S. Border Patrol agents at the Mayaguez Harbor, Puerto Rico and brought them on board the cutter Saturday night to conduct migrant interviews and background checks on their biographic information. The crew of the Key Largo turned custody of the 10 detained Dominican migrants over to U.S. Border Patrol agents, and then proceeded to the Dominican Republic to repatriate the remaining 22 migrants.

The Key Largo arrived at La Romana, Dominican Republic at 9 a.m. Sunday, where the crew transferred custody of the remaining 22 migrants to awaiting Dominican Republic naval authorities.

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 Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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