Coast Guard repatriates 41 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic

Coast Guard District 7 NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo repatriated 41 Dominican Republic nationals to La Romana, Dominican Republic Wednesday, following an at-sea interdiction Monday, approximately seven nautical miles north of Isabela, Puerto Rico.

Caribbean Border Interagency Group federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico detained 28 other Dominicans to face judicial proceedings ashore.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico agreed to file charges and prosecute 17 of the Dominicans for illegal entry and 11 others for illegal reentry into a United States Territory.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders received a report from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent Monday night, who notified that the crew of a CBP marine surveillance aircraft had located a 35-foot migrant boat traveling illegally to Puerto Rico, approximately 12 nautical miles off the coast of Isabela.

Coast Guard Watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo to interdict the migrant vessel. The Sapelo arrived on scene and embarked all 69 migrants from the grossly overloaded boat, that was taking on water, while a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew rescue support overhead.

The crew of the Sapelo destroyed the migrant boat as a hazard to navigation. They also processed the migrant’s biographical information for the 58 men and 11 women, 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 Sapelo rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Añasco, Puerto Rico Tuesday afternoon, where they took 28 Dominicans into custody after reviewing their prior illegal immigration history to face judicial proceedings ashore.

The crew of the Sapelo repatriated the remaining 41 migrants at approximately 8 a.m. Wednesday to La Romana, Dominican Republic and turned custody of the migrants to awaiting Dominican Republic Naval authorities ashore.

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

The CBIG Standard Operating Procedures resulted from a March 2006 collaboration of local Homeland Security components which addressed the increased flow of migrant 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 Office of Bordre Patrol – Ramey Sector, 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 the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant smuggling.

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