Coast Guard Repatriates 13 Dominicans, Detains 9

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast GuardC utter Key Largo repatriated 13 Dominicans Sunday to La Romana, Dominican Republic, and detained seven migrants for prosecution and two others as material witnesses following an at-sea interdiction Saturday.

The case was accepted for prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained two of the migrants who are considered to be aggravated felons for having been previously convicted on drug related charges and being formally removed from the United States. Five migrants were detained for having attempted on multiple occasions to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. territory, and the captain and co-captain of the migrant yola are believed to be among the migrants who have been detained for prosecution.

The crew of a Customs and Border Protection fixed-wing aircraft located a migrant yola at approximately 10:54 p.m. Friday during a law enforcement patrol, approximately 15 nautical miles southwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to interdict the 25-foot-wooden yola carrying 21 Dominicans, 16 male and five females, and one Cuban female migrant who were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico.

The crew of the Key Largo interdicted the yola approximately nine nautical miles southwest of Desecheo Island, and they safely embarked the migrants, while a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, flew rescue support overhead. The crew of the Key Largo destroyed the migrant yola as a hazard to navigation, and turned custody of the nine detained migrants to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez.

Following the transfer of detained migrants, the Key Largo proceeded to go underway to the Dominican Republic to repatriate the remaining 13 migrants. The repatriation was completed at approximately 6 p.m. Sunday when custody of the migrants was transferred 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 1,283 migrants during 49 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 81 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 Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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