Coast Guard repatriates 38 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Cushing repatriated 38 Dominican migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic Thursday morning, while 16 others were detained for prosecution following an at-sea interdiction by Caribbean Border Interagency law enforcement authorities Tuesday.

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection fixed-wing aircraft located a migrant vessel Tuesday morning while patrolling Mona Passage waters. The migrants were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic aboard a 30-foot grossly overloaded wooden yola.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Puerto Rico Police F.U.R.A. marine units responded to the scene, interdicted the migrant vessel and began embarking the migrants due to rough seas and after determining the homemade vessel was unseaworthy. Coast Guard Sector San Juan controllers diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo and an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter to assist the marine units on scene.

The yola capsized during the transfer of migrants and threw an undetermined number of migrants into the water. Customs and Border Protection and F.U.R.A. agents recovered the migrants from the water, while Coast Guard aircrews began searching for possible missing persons.

Afterwards, the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo rendezvoused with Customs and Border Protection and F.U.R.A. marine units and safely embarked and accounted for all 54 migrants.

Once onboard the cutter, the crew of the Key Largo collected the biographic information, including digital fingerprints and facial photographs from the interdicted migrants, and detained 15 Dominicans, 14 men and one woman, and one Haitian man for attempting to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. territory on at least two occasions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute their cases.

The Key Largo transferred custody of the 16 detained migrants to Border Patrol agents Wednesday afternoon at the Puerto Rico Police Marine Station in Añasco, Puerto Rico, and later rendezvoused with Coast Guard Cutter Cushing to transfer the remaining 38 migrants that were repatriated back to the Dominican Republic.

Coast Guard Cutter’s Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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