AGUADILLA, PUERTO RICO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) intercepted late Saturday night a makeshift wooden vessel with 38 undocumented migrant citizens from the Dominican Republic.
A crew of a CBP Marine Patrol Aircraft detected a single engine 25-foot "yola" type wooden vessel without any navigational lights. CBP air assets coordinated with USCG cutter Matinicus and intercepted the vessel about 12 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, finding 38 persons on board who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic.
The migrants were transferred to the USCG cutter for biometric processing and interviews with CBP Border Patrol agents. The examination revealed that 7 migrants had prior illegal entry attempts and 22 were attempting to enter illegally into U.S. territory for the first time.
The USCG repatriated 31 aliens and CBP Border Patrol agents arrested 7 aliens who were transferred to the Ramey station for disposition later in the week. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico agreed to prosecute the six Dominican nationals on charges of illegal entry into a U.S. territory.
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 attempt to illegally enter a U.S. territory not only risk becoming victim of criminal organizations but are also subject to formal administrative processing and arrest by CBP agents and officers.
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 (SJ ReCoM)/Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, 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.
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.