SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing repatriated eight of 12 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic Thursday morning, following an at-sea interdiction Wednesday, approximately 19 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.
Caribbean Border Interagency Group federal law enforcement agents in Puerto Rico detained four Dominican men from the interdicted group to face judicial proceedings ashore.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico agreed to file charges against one of the detained migrants for illegal entry and the 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 Tuesday night, who notified that the crew of a CBP marine surveillance aircraft had located a 17-foot migrant boat traveling east without navigational lights towards the coast of Puerto Rico, approximately 50 nautical miles northwest of the island.
The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing and a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin responded to interdict the migrant vessel. The Cushing arrived on scene, interdicted the migrant vessel and embarked all 12 migrants from the grossly overloaded boat, while the crew of the Coast Guard helicopter flew rescue support overhead.
The crew of the Cushing processed the migrant’s biographical information for the 8 men and four 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, and proceeded to destroy the migrant vessel as a Hazard to Navigation.
The Cushing rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Añasco, Puerto Rico Wednesday night, where CBP Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents took custody of the four detained Dominicans. The Cushing repatriated the remaining eight migrants Thursday morning and transferred their custody to awaiting Dominican Republic Naval authorities in La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Coast Guard Cutter Cushing 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 Border 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.