Coast Guard Repatriates 24 Dominicans and 1 Colombian

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague repatriated a Colombian and 24 Dominican migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic Tuesday, following an at-sea interdiction by Department of Homeland Security law enforcement authorities Sunday.

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection fixed-wing aircraft located a migrant yola Sunday night while patrolling Mona Passage waters, approximately two nautical miles southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague to the scene. The Chincoteague interdicted the migrant vessel Sunday night, and the crew embarked 24 men and 7 women who requested to be taken off the yola as their boat was riding low in the water. The crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew rescue support at the scene, while the migrants disembarked the yola and boarded the Chincoteague.

The migrants were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard a 25-foot grossly overloaded wooden-blue yola. The Chincoteague’s crew collected the migrant’s biometric information and destroyed the yola as a hazard to navigation.

Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained six Dominicans, five men and one woman, for attempting to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. Territory on multiple occasions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute their cases.

U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted interviews and background checks on the migrant’s biographic information while on board the Chincoteague. The crew of the Chincoteague later turned custody of the six detained Dominican migrants over to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Monday night.

The Chincoteague arrived to La Romana, Dominican Republic at 8 a.m. Tuesday, where the crew transferred custody of the remaining migrants to awaiting Dominican Republic naval authorities.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, U.S. Coast Guard/U.S. Visit Biometrics Proof of Concept, biometric data has been collected on 1,712 migrants during 68 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 148 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 Chincoteague is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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