SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard returned 15 Cuban and one Dominican migrants to the Dominican Republic Sunday afternoon after the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier interdicted an illegal migrant vessel Saturday in the Mona Passage.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico will be filing criminal charges against one other Dominican Republic national who was also traveling with the group — for attempted illegal entry into the United States.
The crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft detected the group of migrants late Friday night transiting aboard a 25-foot boat, approximately 20 nautical miles west Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan proceeded to divert the Joseph Napier to interdict migrant vessel. Upon arriving on scene, the Joseph Napier launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon IV boat that came alongside and interdicted the migrant vessel. Due to safety of life at sea concerns, the crew of the Joseph Napier proceeded to embark the 15 Cubans, 12 men and three women, and the two Dominican men from the grossly overloaded boat.
The migrants were transported by the Joseph Napier and transferred to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Sunday afternoon, while the man facing potential prosecution was later transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Añasco, Puerto Rico.
The Joseph Napier 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.