Coast Guard Repatriates 12 Migrants, Detains 3 for Prosecution

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus repatriated one Dominican and 11 Cuban illegal migrants Monday to La Romana, Dominican Republic, and they detained three other Dominican migrants for prosecution following an at-sea interdiction Saturday.

Three Dominican migrants were identified through the use of biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs) as having a history of illegal immigration or criminal activity in the United States or a U.S. territory. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained three of the four Dominican migrants aboard the interdicted yola, and the United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute their cases.

The crew of an Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter located a migrant yola at approximately 5:13 p.m. Saturday, while conducting a law enforcement patrol, approximately 16 nautical miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter’s Cushing and Matinicus that responded to the scene to interdict the migrant yola along with a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action F.U.R.A. marine unit. The 13 men and two women where traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard a 25-foot-white wooden yola.

Coast Guard Cutter Cushing and the F.U.RA. marine unit arrived on scene with the yola that had stopped making way and had it’s engine turned off upon the arrival of law enforcement authorities. The Cushing embarked the migrants, collected their biometric information and destroyed the yola as a hazard to navigation. Afterwards, the Matinicus arrived on scene and embarked the migrants from the Cushing.

The crew of the Matinicus turned custody of the three detained migrants to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez Sunday evening. The crew of the Matinicus completed the repatriation of the remaining Dominican and 11 Cubans at approximately 3:30 p.m. Monday, when they transferred custody of the illegal 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 1,526 migrants during 62 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 116 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’s Cushing and Matinicus are 110-foot patrol boats home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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