Coast Guard Repatriates 70 Dominicans

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tempest repatriated 70 Dominicans and one Haitian today to La Romana, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction Wednesday.

Twenty-eight migrants were identified through the use of biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs) as having a history of illegal immigration or criminal activity in the United States or a U.S. territory.

Coast Guard law enforcement personnel detained two of the migrants who were attempting to illegally re-enter U.S. territory for at least a third time. Five other migrants, considered to be felony reentrants for having been previously deported or formally removed from the U.S., were also detained for attempting to enter illegally into U.S. territory.

The crew of cutter Tempest transferred custody of the seven detained migrants to U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez today, for further processing in anticipation of filing of charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico. The Tempest then proceeded to go underway to La Romana to repatriate the remaining 71 migrants whom remained onboard. The repatriation was completed at approximately 4 p.m. today when custody of the migrants was transferred to Dominican Republic navy authorities in La Romana.

The crew of a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon Jet from Air Station Miami, Fla. located the migrant yola Wednesday at approximately 1:21 p.m. during a law enforcement patrol, approximately 24 nautical miles west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard controllers diverted Coast Guard Cutter Tempest to interdict the migrants who were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard the grossly overloaded 35-foot-blue wooden yola. The crew of the Tempest arrived on scene and interdicted the migrants at approximately 1:43 p.m. The crew safely embarked the migrants while a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico flew rescue support overhead. The crew of the Tempest destroyed the migrant yola as a hazard to navigation.

Coast Guard Cutter Cushing rendezvoused with the Tempest Wednesday and deployed a law enforcement team aboard the Tempest to collect and process biometrics from all 78 migrants.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, U.S. Coast Guard/US-VISIT Biometrics Proof of Concept, biometric data has been collected on 1,095 migrants during 40 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 70 migrants have been brought ashore for filing of charges and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

The 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 Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Cutter Tempest is a 179-foot patrol boat home ported in Pascagoula Miss.

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