Coast Guard repatriates 76 Dominican migrants

US Coast Guard Cutter Diligence File Photo

US Coast Guard Cutter Diligence File Photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Diligence (WMEC-616) repatriated 76 of 80 Dominican migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Friday following the interdiction of three separate illegal migrant voyages near Puerto Rico.

Four other migrants will remain in Puerto Rico to face possible federal prosecution on charges of violating 8 USC 1326, for attempting to illegally reenter the United States, which carries a potential maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The interdictions were a result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

“Medium endurance Coast Guard cutters like Dependable and Diligence provide persistent and robust search and rescue and law enforcement presence along the United States’ vast maritime borders and ocean areas promoting safety of life at sea by helping prevent loss of life from perilous migrant voyages in overloaded and unsafe vessels, as well as enforcing compliance with federal laws and regulations,” said Cmdr. Luke Slivinski, commanding officer of the cutter Diligence. “Our recent interdictions were expertly supported by CPB Air and Marine Operations patrol aircraft that located the migrant vessels and adeptly directed our small boats over dozens of miles of open ocean at night to safely intercept them. The success of these recent joint operations highlights the excellent cooperation, coordination, and interoperability between marine law enforcement agencies in and around Puerto Rico.”

The first interdiction took place Monday morning, after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a migrant boat near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable (WMEC-626) interdicted the illegal voyage and embarked all 29 migrants, 22 men and seven women.

The second interdiction took place Tuesday evening after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a migrant boat, approximately 18 nautical miles west of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Diligence interdicted the illegal voyage and embarked all 31 migrants, 28 men and three women.

The third interdiction took place Thursday morning, after the crew of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a migrant boat in the Mona Passage, approximately 13 nautical miles southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Diligence (WMEC-616) interdicted the illegal voyage and embarked all 20 migrant men.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

The cutter Dependable is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Little Creek, Virginia, while the cutter Diligence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Operation Caribbean Guard is a Department of Homeland Security multi-agency law enforcement operation to support ongoing efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands being executed under the San Juan Regional Coordinating Mechanism (SJ ReCoM)/Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

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 (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.


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