Coast Guard rescues 16 Cuban migrants, repatriates them to la Romana, Dominican Republic

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark repatriated 16 Cubans to La Romana, Dominican Republic Friday, following an at-sea migrant interdiction and rescue in the Mona Passage by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities Wednesday night.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico is charging two Dominican Republic nationals from the interdicted vessel to face judicial proceedings ashore for attempting to illegally enter a U.S. Territory.

The migrant boat was spotted by the crew of Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter Wednesday night travelling eastbound without the use of navigational lights, approximately 18 nautical miles west northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan proceeded to divert the Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark to interdict the migrant vessel and alerted a Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine maritime patrol aircraft that also responded. The crew of the CBP maritime patrol aircraft reacquired and maintained surveillance of the migrant vessel as the Reef Shark and the cutter small boat interdicted the 25-foot wooden boat that was taking on water and sinking with 18 migrants onboard, 15 men and three women.

The Reef Shark proceeded to embark the migrants and collected their biographical information, including 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.

The Reef Shark rendezvoused with CBP Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Puerto Rico Thursday afternoon, where they took custody of the two Dominican Republic nationals to face judicial proceedings ashore.

The Reef Shark repatriated the remaining 16 Cuban migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic Friday afternoon, where they were transferred to Dominican Republic Naval authorities.

Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark is an 87-foot coastal patrol boat home ported in San Juan, 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 for the 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.

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