SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) federal law enforcement authorities intercepted early this morning a single engine yola type vessel with 14 undocumented citizens of the Dominican Republic.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders were contacted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) agents Friday morning, who reported that the crew of a CBP maritime patrol aircraft had located a migrant vessel transiting from the Dominican Republic towards the west coast of Puerto Rico.
CBP and Puerto Rico Police Department marine units responded, interdicted the migrant vessel and embarked the migrants from the makeshift wooden yola (boat).
The migrants were transferred shortly thereafter to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus for biometrics processing to determine if they had any previous criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. Territory.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico agreed to prosecute seven other Dominicans, who were also traveling aboard the migrant vessel, of which five are to face charges for illegal entry and two others for illegal reentry into a United States Territory.
The Matinicus proceeded to transit to La Romana, Dominican Republic, where they transferred custody of the six remaining Dominicans and one Haitian to awaiting Dominican Republic Navy authorities ashore Saturday morning.
According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), while smuggling by sea accounts only for a small portion of overall migrant smuggling around the world, the particular dangers of irregular travel at sea make it a priority for response, due to the reported fact that more deaths occur by sea.
People who venture to enter into a U.S. territory not only risk becoming victim of criminal organizations but can also be exposed to the inconvenience of a formal administrative processing and arrest by CBP agents or officers.
U.S. immigration law makes it a crime to enter or attempt to enter without requesting admission at a port of entry by immigration officers.
CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
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 the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.