AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico –U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO), working jointly with the U.S. Coast Guard, intercepted a makeshift wooden vessel Saturday with 25 undocumented migrants from the Dominican Republic navigating towards Puerto Rico.
Early morning a CBP Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) detected a 30 foot, blue wooden makeshift “yola” type vessel with a single outboard engine and more than 20 people on board, traveling eastbound approximately 70 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla.
“A typical “yola” is an unsafe vessel, generally underpowered with a single outboard motor, and overloaded with a large number of passengers and without life vests,” stated Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations for the CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. The CBP aircraft maintained surveillance of the vessel to assist the USCG Cutter Richard Dixon to intercept the vessel.
The crew of the USCG Richard Dixon transferred the 25 migrants, who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, on board the cutter for safety and biometric processing.
One migrant citizen of the Dominican Republic was arrested and transported to the U.S. Border Patrol Station at Ramey for further investigation and processing.
The USCG cutter Richard Dixon repatriated 24 migrants to the Dominican Republic.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (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 Rapid Action Forces (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands borders 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.