Coast Guard repatriates 3 Dominicans and 10 Cubans to La Romana, Dominican Republic

7th Coast Guard District NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo repatriated three Dominicans and 10 Cubans to La Romana, Dominican Republic Tuesday, following an at-sea interdiction Saturday and a migrant rescue Sunday in the Mona Passage.

Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement agents detained two other Dominicans from both cases to face judicial proceedings ashore. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico agreed to file charges and prosecute one of the Dominicans for migrant smuggling, while the other will be facing charges for attempted illegal reentry into a United States Territory.

Sunday’s rescue:
Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders received a report Sunday from Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents, who reported apprehending two Dominican migrants in the vicinity of Rincón, Puerto Rico. The apprehended migrants notified CBP Border Patrol Agents that there were reportedly 10 people aboard the boat and that an unknown number of migrants were thrown overboard an unknown distance from shore.

The crew of an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was launched to search for any possible people remaining in the water, while the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo and a Civil Air Patrol aircraft were diverted to assist. Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) marine and helicopter units also responded to the scene and rescued four migrants from the water. Upon completing the rescue, a Puerto Rico Police maritime unit transferred custody of the four rescued migrants to the crew of the Key Largo.

“This is just another example of the ruthless character smugglers display by risking the lives of the people they try to smuggle across the Mona Passage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sean Cashell, Sector San Juan chief of law enforcement.

Coast Guard rescue crews suspended their search for additional survivors Monday afternoon.

Saturday’s interdiction:
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo detected a suspected 20-foot migrant boat with the people onboard hiding under a blue tarp, approximately nine nautical miles west on Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

They crew of the Key Largo launched their small boat, interdicted the migrant vessel and embarked two Dominicans and 12 Cubans, after the migrant vessel came to a full stop.

Biometrics and Repatriation:
The crew of the Key Largo collected and processed the migrant’s biographical information from Sunday’s migrant rescue and Saturday’s at-sea interdiction, including taking their digital fingerprints and facial photographs, to determine if they had any criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. Territory.

The Key Largo rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Monday, who conducted migrant interviews aboard and took into custody the two Dominican men that are to face judicial proceedings ashore.

The crew of the Key Largo repatriated the remaining 13 migrants at approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to La Romana, Dominican Republic as they turned custody of the migrants to awaiting Dominican Republic Naval authorities ashore.

Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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,, 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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