Coast Guard repatriates 10 Dominicans to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The 110-foot "Island Class" Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak sits anchored just offshore of South Florida.  Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, and migrant interdiction are just some of the missions the Cutter Sitkinak performs.

USCGC Sitkinak file photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak repatriated 10 Dominican migrants to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Friday, following an at-sea Coast Guard and CBIG interdiction Thursday, approximately 22 nautical miles north of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch dash-8 aircraft located a 23-foot yola (boat) Wednesday night, while patrolling waters north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The migrants were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic.

“We successfully interdicted this migrant vessel through efficient interagency coordination efforts between Coast Guard rescue crews and our partner agencies,” said Capt. Marc Stegman, Sector San Juan Deputy commander. “Our rescue crews averted a potentially tragic situation in this case by safely recovering migrants from a dangerously overloaded and unseaworthy vessel.”

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan alerted and diverted the Sitkinak to interdict the migrant vessel. The crew of the Sitkinak arrived on scene, interdicted the migrant vessel, as the vessel became disabled and adrift, and safely embarked 13 Dominican men and one woman Thursday morning. The crew of the Sitkinak conducted background checks on the interdicted migrants by collecting and processing their biographical information, including their digital fingerprints and facial photographs.

The Sitkinak rendezvoused with Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Thursday, who conducted migrant interviews aboard the cutter and took four Dominican men into custody to face judicial proceedings ashore for attempting to illegally reenter a U.S. territory.

The Sitkinak repatriated the remaining 10 Dominicans at approximately 12 p.m. Friday to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where the crew turned custody of the migrants over to awaiting Dominican Republic Naval authorities ashore.

Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in Miami.

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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