16 Illegal Migrants Repatriated, Detains 1 for Prosecution

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus repatriated 13 Dominicans, one Cuban, one Haitian and one Colombian Thursday to La Romana, Dominican Republic, and they detained one Dominican migrant for prosecution following an at-sea interdiction Wednesday.

Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained the Dominican migrant, considered to be a felony reentrant, after having been previously deported and formally removed from the United States or a U.S. territory. The case of the Dominican migrant was accepted for prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The crew of an Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter located a migrant yola at approximately 7:49a.m. Wednesday, while conducting a law enforcement patrol approximately 9.5 nautical miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to the scene and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action F.U.R.A. and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Units also responded to interdict a 20-foot-blue yola carrying 14 men and three women whom were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico.

The crew of a F.U.R.A. marine unit interdicted the yola, embarked the migrants and awaited for the arrival of the Matinicus. Once on scene, the crew of the Matinicus embarked the migrants from the F.U.R.A. marine unit, and they towed the yola approximately 10 nautical miles offshore where they destroyed it as a hazard to navigation. The crew of the Matinicus turned custody of the detained migrant to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez Wednesday evening.

The crew of the Matinicus completed the repatriation of the remaining 16 migrants at approximately 8:30 a.m. Thursday, when they transferred custody of the migrants to Dominican Republic navy authorities in La Romana.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, U.S. Coast Guard/US-VISIT Biometrics Proof of Concept, biometric data has been collected on 1,511 migrants during 61 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 113 migrants have been brought ashore for filing of charges and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The biometric capability employed in this case provides the Coast Guard with an important tool to definitively establish the identity of those interdicted at sea who may attempt to enter or re-enter the United States illegally, or who may pose a threat to national security.

Collecting biometric identification supports the U.S. Government’s efforts to target human smugglers and protect migrants put at risk attempting to enter the United States illegally from the sea.

Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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