Coast Guard repatriates 70 Dominicans to La Romana, Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo repatriated 70 Dominican migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic Wednesday morning, while 20 others were detained for prosecution following an at-sea interdiction by Coast Guard law enforcement authorities Tuesday.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague located and interdicted a migrant yola Tuesday morning, while patrolling Mona Passage waters, approximately four nautical miles southwest of Rincón, Puerto Rico.

The crew of the Chincoteague arrived on scene with the migrant vessel, which was taking on water, and they proceeded to transfer onboard the cutter all 69 men, including one minor, and 21 women from the interdicted yola. During the migrant transfer, the crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew rescue support overhead.

Once onboard the cutter, the crew of the Chincoteague collected the biographic information, including digital fingerprints and facial photographs from the interdicted migrants, and detained 20 Dominicans, 17 men and three women, for attempting to enter illegally into the United States or a U.S. Territory on at least two occasions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute their cases.

The Chincoteague rendezvoused with Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo in Mona Passage waters Tuesday, where the crew of the Chincoteague transferred custody of the 70 migrants that would be repatriated back to the Dominican Republic. Afterwards, the crew of the Chincoteague transferred custody of the 20 detained migrants to Border Patrol agents Tuesday night at the Puerto Rico Police Marine Station in Añasco, Puerto Rico.

The crew of the Key Largo repatriated all 70 Dominicans onboard at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, when they turned custody of the migrants over to Dominican Republic Naval authorities in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

“Migrants smugglers continue to place the lives of many Dominicans in danger for their own personal gain,” said Capt. Joanna Nunan, Sector San Juan Acting Commander. “They overload unseaworhty boats with people and attempt the treacherous voyage across the Mona Passage, which sometimes ends tragically. We will continue to work closely with our partners to identify and prosecute migrant smugglers.”

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’s Office of Air & Marine (A&M), Office of Field Operations (OFO), and Office of Border Patrol (OBP), 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.

The Coast Guard/US-VISIT 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’s Chincoteague and Key Largo are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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