SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon repatriated six of eight Dominican men to Cap Cana, Dominican Republic July 17, following an at-sea interdiction by the Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities July 16, approximately 20 nautical miles off the coast of Isabela, Puerto Rico.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico has agreed to prosecute two of the Dominican illegal migrants aboard the interdicted vessel, on charges of illegal entry into a United States Territory.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch agents alerted Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders that the crew of a CBP maritime surveillance aircraft, patrolling the area in support of Operation Caribbean Guard, had located a 23-foot migrant vessel transiting towards the west coast of Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders relayed the information to the Coast Guard Cutters Farallon and Sapelo, who responded to interdict the migrant vessel.
The Coast Guard Cutter Farallon arrived on scene, interdicted the migrant vessel and embarked all eight migrants from the makeshift wooden boat, while a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquem MH-65 Dolphin helicopter provided rescue support overhead.
“Migrants risk their lives by entrusting ruthless smugglers to take them on the treacherous journey across the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “They are very fortunate to have survived thanks to the coordinated efforts of all law enforcement agencies and governments across the region and sheer luck. For those thinking about taking to the sea, don’t do it, it could cost you your life.”
The crew of the Farallon processed the migrants biographic information, including their digital fingerprints and facial photograph, to determine if any migrants had a previous criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. Territory.
The Farallon rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, who came onboard, interviewed the undocumented migrants and took two of the eight Dominicans into custody for criminal prosecution.
The Farallon proceeded to transit to Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, where they transferred custody of the six remaining Dominicans to awaiting Dominican Republic Navy authorities Wednesday morning.
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 and Caribbean Border Interagency Group.
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 and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
The Coast Guard supports this initiative by forward deploying Coast Guard resources and capabilities from the United States, such as HC-130 and HC-144 maritime patrol aircraft and additional Coast Guard cutters, to augment locally assigned federal resources and strengthen patrol efforts to deter, detect and disrupt illicit migrant trafficking in and around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also, CBIG works closely with international partners, specifically the Dominican Republic's Armed Forces and National Directorate for Drug Control.
Coast Guard Cutters Farallon and Sapelo are 110-foot patrols homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.