SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser returned nine Dominicans and five Brazilians to the Dominican Republic Friday, after a boat carrying 22 migrants was interdicted by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities Tuesday near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is filing a criminal complaint against three Dominicans and four Brazilians traveling with the group, who are facing potential criminal prosecution for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States.
The illegal migrant voyage was detected by the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations maritime patrol aircraft Tuesday, approximately 13 nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The migrants were traveling aboard a grossly overloaded wooden makeshift vessel from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Winslow Griesser to interdict the migrant vessel, while Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action FURA and Customs and Border Protection marine units also responded.
The responding units arrived on scene and intercepted the migrant vessel, approximately nine nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The crew of the Winslow Griesser supplied the migrants with life jackets before embarking 13 Dominicans, 12 adults and one male minor, and nine Brazilians, 8 men and a woman, from the migrant vessel. Once aboard Winslow Griesser, the migrants were provided with food, water, and shelter and they underwent biometric processing to determine if any had a prior criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. Territory.
The Winslow Griesser transferred custody of the Dominicans and Brazilians who are facing potential criminal prosecution to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Wednesday.
One other Dominican migrant experiencing abdominal pains was medevaced Thursday from the Winslow Griesser by a MH-65 helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Boriquen and transported to the Centro Medico Hospital to receive further medical care.
The Winslow Griesser returned the remaining Dominicans, including the minor, and Brazilians to the Dominican Republic during an at-sea transfer of the migrants to a Dominican Navy patrol vessel Friday just south of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The Winslow Griesser is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Rapid Action Forces (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands borders against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.