AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents detected and intercepted Friday a wooden makeshift vessel with 35 undocumented aliens from the Dominican Republic and Haiti attempting to reach the southwestern coast.
“Making the journey across the Mona Passage is extremely treacherous and dangerous,” stated Johnny Morales, Director of CBP’s Air and Marine Operations in the Caribbean. “Traversing to Puerto Rico illegally during this worldwide pandemic adds a danger to the lives of these illegal migrants.”
Near midnight on April 2, the crew of an AMO DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft observed single-engine “yola” type vessel moving east without navigational lights about 40 miles from the municipality of Cabo Rojo.
The crew of the MPA maintained constant surveillance of the vessel, contacting an AMO Marine Interceptor Vessel crew, which intercepted the vessel 18 nautical miles from the island, finding 35 people onboard.
AMO agents provided protective masks to all the aliens inside the boat. The aliens claimed to be from the Dominican Republic and Haiti; 30 males, 4 females and 1 minor.
Following the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) protocols, the 35 aliens boarded the US Coast Guard cutter Joseph Tezanos for biometric processing and repatriation.
The mission of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations is to safeguard our Nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, Air and Marine Operations uses its sophisticated fleets to detect, sort, intercept, track and apprehend criminals in diverse environments at and beyond U.S. borders.
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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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.