Coast Guard repatriates 58 Dominican nationals

Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Barney.

Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Barney.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez’s crew repatriated 58 Dominicans to the Dominican Republic Thursday, following the interdiction of two illegal voyages northwest of Aguadilla.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing local and federal multi-agency efforts in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group CBIG.

“The people on these voyages are very fortunate our crews arrived in time to prevent what could have been a most tragic outcome,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “Conditions aboard both these vessels were extremely unsafe, they were grossly overloaded, and had no lifesaving equipment, which could have caused them to capsize and possibly taken the life of everyone aboard. To anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage, don’t take to the sea! You will be putting your life and the life of others at risk.”

During a routine patrol Tuesday, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Marine Enforcement Aircraft detected the illegal voyage in the Caribbean Sea 86 miles northwest of Aguadilla. Following the sighting, the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez crew interdicted a 30-foot smuggling vessel and safely embarked 34 persons. All the passengers claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.

During a routine patrol Saturday, a Customs and Border Protection Marine Enforcement Aircraft detected a second illegal voyage 63 miles northwest of Aguadilla. The Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez crew interdicted the grossly overloaded smuggling vessel and safely embarked 28 persons, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals including 26 men and two women.

The cutter Heriberto Hernandez crew repatriated 58 individuals from this voyages Thursday, while two Dominican Republic nationals remain in Puerto Rico under federal custody for processing.

Family members in the United States inquiring about possible family members interdicted at sea, please contact your local U.S. representative. Relatives located outside the United States please contact your local U.S. Embassy.

CBIG 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, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal migration and drug smuggling.

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