Coast Guard Repatriates 16 Dominicans, 2 Ecuadorians, Detains 4 Migrants

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing repatriated 16 Dominican and two Ecuadorian migrants today to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction Tuesday.

Five migrants were identified through the use of biometrics(digital fingerprints and photographs) as having a history of illegal immigration in the United States or a U.S. territory. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained four male Dominican migrants for attempting to illegally re-enter U.S. territory for the fourth time.

The fifth migrant, in his second attempt to re-enter U.S. territory illegally, was repatriated to the Dominican Republic.

The Cushing’s crew transferred custody of all four Dominican migrants to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez yesterday, for further processing in anticipation of filing of charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter initially located the migrant yola traveling illegally to Puerto Rico at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, approximately 22 nautical miles northwest of Mona Island. The migrants were observed by the crew of the Dolphin helicopter placing a blue tarp over the yola in an attempt to conceal the yola.

Coast Guard controllers immediately diverted the Cushing to intercept the migrant yola. The Cushing arrived on scene at 4:10 p.m. and interdicted the 28-foot-blue yola, approximately 28 nautical miles northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The fragile, wooden yola was taking on water and the crew of the Cushing safely embarked the migrants.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard/U.S. Visit Biometrics Proof of Concept, Biometric data on 596 migrants has been collected during 25 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 23 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 Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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