Coast Guard repatriates 29 migrants to the Dominican Republic

The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos file photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated 29 migrants Tuesday morning to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, following two at-sea interdictions by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities Friday in Mona Passage waters off Puerto Rico.

Ten of the interdicted migrants, 9 men and a woman, of Dominican nationality, are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges for attempting to illegally reenter a U.S. Territory.

“Migrants not only are placing their lives at risk when they venture to cross the Mona Passage aboard overloaded and makeshift vessels operated by smuggling organizations,” said Capt. Eric P. King, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “They also risk being prosecuted, spendng time in jail, and permanently being barred from entering the United States legally.”

The first interdiction took place at approximately 1 a.m. Friday when the crew of a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action F.U.R.A. maritime unit stopped a 20-foot boat with 12 migrants on board, approximately four nautical miles northwest of Rincon, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos arrived on scene shortly thereafter and embarked the migrants, four men and five women of Dominican nationality and three Haitian men.

A second 28-foot migrant vessel was later detected and interdicted by the crew of the Joseph Tezanos at approximately 4:19 a.m. Friday, approximately four nautical miles northeast of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. The crew of the Joseph Tezanos embarked all 28 migrants of Dominican nationality, 21 men and seven women. One of the migrant females was four months pregnant. The migrant vessel was seized by the crew of the F.U.R.A. marine unit and towed to the unit’s boat station in Aguada, Puerto Rico.

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

The 10 migrants facing potential federal prosecution were transferred Monday evening to Ramey Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, while the remaining migrants were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser for repatriation to the Dominican Republic.

The Coast Guard Cutters Joseph Tezanos and Winslow Griesser are 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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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