Coast Guard Repatriates 22 Dominicans

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus repatriated 22 Dominicans at 1 p.m. today to La Romana, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction Monday.

Four migrants were identified through the use of biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs) as having attempted to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. territory on one previous occasion.

The crew of a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon Jet from Air Station Miami, Fla. located the migrant yola Monday at approximately 11:35 a.m. during a law enforcement patrol, approximately 38 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to interdict eight female and 14 male Dominican migrants who were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard the grossly overloaded 20-foot-white wooden yola.

The crew of the Matinicus arrived on scene and interdicted the migrants at 1:22 p.m., approximately 29 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island. The migrants requested to be taken off their yola that was taking on water. The crew of the Matinicus safely embarked the migrants, while a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, flew rescue support overhead. The crew of the Matinicus destroyed the migrant yola as a hazard to navigation.

The repatriation was completed at approximately 1 p.m. today 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 1,117 migrants during 41 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 70 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 Matinicus is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan.

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