Coast Guard repatriates 18 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic

7th Coast Guard District NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo repatriated 18 of 24 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic Wednesday, following an at-sea interdiction Tuesday by Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) authorities in waters south of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

CBIG law enforcement agents detained five of the men to face judicial proceedings ashore for attempting to illegally reenter a U.S. territory, while one other migrant was medevaced after he began experiencing chest pains.

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch dash-8 aircraft located a migrant boat transiting illegally to Puerto Rico Tuesday morning. Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo to interdict the vessel.

The Sapelo arrived on scene, interdicted the migrant vessel and embarked 23 men and one woman, while the crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew rescue support overhead. Sapelo’s crew collected and processed the migrant’s biographic information, including their digital fingerprints and facial photographs.

The Sapelo rendezvoused with Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Tuesday night, who interviewed the migrants aboard the cutter and took custody of the five Dominicans Wednesday morning. Emergency Medical Services personnel also transported the medevaced migrant Wednesday morning to a medical facility in Mayaguez to receive further medical care.

The Sapelo repatriated the remaining 18 Dominicans at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday to La Romana, Dominican Republic, where they turned custody of the migrants over to Dominican Republic Naval authorities ashore.

Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan.

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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