Coast Guard repatriates 21 migrants to the Dominican Republic

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley (WPC-1117) Over the Horizon cutter boat is on scene with a group of 25 Dominican migrants interdicted off Puerto Rico Nov. 29, 2018. The Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WPC-910) repatriated 21 of the 25 migrants to a Dominican Navy patrol boat Dec. 3, 2018 in waters just off Samana, Dominican Republic. Four of the migrants are facing criminal federal charges in Puerto Rico for attempting to illegally reenter the United States.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley (WPC-1117) Over the Horizon cutter boat is on scene with a group of 25 Dominican migrants interdicted off Puerto Rico Nov. 29, 2018.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard repatriated 21 Dominican migrants to a Dominican Navy patrol boat in waters just of Samana Bay, Dominican Republic Monday, following the at-sea interdiction of a migrant vessel off Puerto Rico.

Four of the interdicted migrants are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges in Puerto Rico for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States.

The interdiction resulted from ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

“Exceptional coordination between Coast Guard and CBP CAMB air assets allowed us to detect and safely recover all 25 people from this grossly overloaded vessel,” said Lt. Katherine Ustler, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley (WPC-1117). “These partnerships are not only vital to our maritime border security, but are instrumental in stopping these perilous voyages before they end in tragedy. I’m proud of the tireless efforts of the Horsley crew over the past week to ensure the safe recovery of 99 Dominican migrants trying to make the dangerous journey across the Mona Passage.”

The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft on a routine patrol detected a 15-foot grossly overloaded migrant boat Thursday night traveling illegally without navigational lights, approximately 88 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders diverted the cutter Donald Horsley, which responded and interdicted the makeshift boat that was carrying 25 people aboard, who claimed Dominican nationality.

The crew of the cutter Donald Horsley safely embarked the migrants as a Customs and Border Protection DHC-8 maritime patrol aircraft that also responded provided air support coverage on scene. The crew of the Donald Horsley subsequently transferred the migrants to the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMC-910) for their return to the Dominican Republic.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention

The cutter Thetis is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Florida, while the cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results being achieved each and every day locally under Operation Caribbean Guard, which coordinates efforts between the Coast Guard, its DHS, Commonwealth and Territorial law enforcement partners, who are working diligently to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Caribbean Border Interagency Group was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

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