USCG repatriates 25 migrants to the Dominican Republic
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare (WMEC-912) repatriated 22 Dominicans and returned one Venezuelan and two Haitians to a Dominican Navy patrol vessel Thursday near Samaná, Dominican Republic, USCG said.
The repatriation followed the interdiction of an illegal migrant voyage Tuesday off the coast of Aguada, Puerto Rico.
Seven other Dominican migrants traveling in the group remain in federal custody facing possible prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico on potential charges of attempted illegal reentry into a U.S. territory.
The interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
“The swift response by Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine units and efficient collaboration with the crew of the cutter Legare allowed for the safe embarkation of the migrants, while the professionalism of our partners from the Dominican Republic Navy ensured their safe and expedited return,” said Capt. Eric King, Sector San Juan Commanding Officer. “Migrant voyages are extremely dangerous, the conditions in which they take places puts the lives of those who participate in great danger.”
Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center watchstanders were contacted Tuesday morning by Puerto Rico Police. The watchstanders were notified that two Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) marine units had interdicted a 25-foot migrant boat three nautical miles off the coast of Aguada, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard watchstanders diverted the cutter Legare to the scene. Once on scene, Legare crew members safely embarked 29 Dominicans, 25 men and four women; 2 Haitian women; three Brazilian men, and a Venezuelan man.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
The seven migrants facing prosecution are in custody of U.S. Border Patrol agents in Puerto Rico, while the three Brazilian migrants were transferred to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents for further immigrations processing.
Legare (WMEC 912) is one of six 270-foot medium endurance cutters stationed out of Base Support Unit Portsmouth, Virginia. Legare’s deployable missions include Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Protection of Living Marine Resources, Homeland Security and Defense Operations, International training, and humanitarian operations. Legare patrols the offshore waters from Maine to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and most recently in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group unifies efforts between 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. These agencies share a common goal of securing the maritime border of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling threats.