CBIG authorities detain 2 Dominicans for smuggling Cubans to Mona Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities interdicted two Dominican men suspected of migrant smuggling Monday and took custody of nine Cuban migrants after they made landfall on Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute the cases of the two Dominican men for migrant smuggling and or attempting to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. Territory.

The crew of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch DCH-8 aircraft located a 20-foot migrant vessel Sunday night approaching Mona Island, Puerto Rico, with nine men and two women onboard. The Cuban migrants swam to shore after the smugglers dropped them off in the water.

A Customs and Border Protection Air Marine Branch Blackhawk helicopter arrived on scene with the DCH-8 aircraft and they vectored the Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague to the migrant vessel’s position as the smugglers attempted to depart and return to the Dominican Republic. The crew of the Chincoteague interdicted and embarked the suspected smugglers, approximately two nautical miles west of Mona Island.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders also launched the crew of an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to search for any potential migrants in the water. No further migrants were found as the migrants travelling aboard the yola reported that they had all made it safely to shore.

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources Park Rangers on Mona Island were notified of the migrant landing and responded to the scene taking into custody all nine Cubans, seven males and two females.

The CBP Blackhawk helicopter, with Border Patrol Agents onboard, landed on Mona Island to intervene and interview the migrants that came ashore. The CBP helicopter crew transported six of the Cubans, four men and two women, to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where they were transported to the Ramey Border Patrol Station for processing.

The crew of the Chincoteague towed the migrant vessel and transported the remaining three migrants and the two suspected smugglers to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where they transferred custody of the migrants and the vessel to awaiting Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents.

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

The concept of CBIG resulted from a March 2006 collaboration of local Homeland Security components that effectively stemmed the increased flow of 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’s Office of Air & Marine (A&M), Office of Field Operations (OFO), and Office of Border Patrol (OBP), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 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 Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal maritime traffic and gaining control of our nation’s Caribbean borders.

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