Coast Guard Repatriates 83 Dominicans, Detains 5

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo repatriated 85 Dominican migrants today to La Romana, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction by the Coast Guard and Puerto Rico law enforcement authorities yesterday.

Nine migrants were identified through the use of biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs) as having a history of illegal immigration 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 after having been previously deported and formally removed from U.S. territory. Three migrants were detained for attempting to enter illegally into U.S. territory for the third time and the remaining four migrants were repatriated to La Romana.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo transferred custody of the 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 crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter initially located the migrant yola at 9:50 a.m. yesterday traveling illegally to Puerto Rico, approximately 7 nautical miles north of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard controllers immediately diverted the Sapelo to intercept the migrant yola. The Sapelo combined efforts with two Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action Cobra marine units and together they interdicted the 35-foot-wooden and grossly overloaded yola. The crew of the Sapelo safely embarked the migrants and destroyed the migrant yola as a hazard to navigation.

After transferring custody of the five detained migrants to Border Patrol agents, the Sapelo rendezvoused with cutter Key Largo at approximately 1 p.m. today and transferred the 83 migrants to the Key Largo for repatriation to La Romana. The repatriation was completed at approximately 8:15 p.m. today when custody of the migrants was transferred to Dominican Republic navy authorities in La Romana.

Since its inception in Nov. 2006, U.S. Coast Guard/U.S. Visit Biometrics Proof of Concept, biometric data has been collected on 797 migrants during 32 at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage. Thus far, 36 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’s Sapelo and Key Largo are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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