Coast Guard Repatriates Eight Migrants Following At-Sea Interdiction off Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated eight Dominicans May 16 to the Dominican Republic following the interdiction of a makeshift boat by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities just off the coast of Rincon, Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard 7th District said in a May 17 release.
Six of the interdicted migrants, four Dominican men, a Dominican woman and a Haitian man, are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges for attempted illegal entry into the U.S. One other Dominican man is also facing prosecution after he was identified having an active warrant for his arrest from the state of New York.
“Safety of life at sea and the security of our maritime border are our primary concerns,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mario Gil, commanding officer of the cutter Joseph Tezanos. “We discourage anyone from taking to the sea in these overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels. They are risking their lives with very little chance of success.”
During a routine patrol in the Mona Passage May 14, the crew of a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit detected and initiated the pursuit of the 24-foot migrant boat. Coast Guard Sector San Juan watch standers diverted the cutter Joseph Tezanos to interdict the vessel and launched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen to provide interdiction and rescue support overhead. As Joseph Tezanos arrived on scene, the crew of the Puerto Rico Police marine unit stopped the migrant vessel. The crew of the Tezanos safely embarked all 21 migrants, including a Haitian man, two Ecuadorian men and a woman, and 13 Dominican men and four women.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico took custody of the migrants facing prosecution and the six others who needed to undergo further immigration processing. The Tezanos crew transported the remaining migrants to the Dominican Republic, where the crew of a Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat received custody of the migrants in waters just off Punta Cana.
Joseph Tezanos is 154-foot fast-response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Caribbean Border Interagency Group 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 U.S. 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.