AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) detected Monday 2 makeshift wooden vessels with a total of 35 undocumented migrants from the Dominican Republic and Haiti near the northwest coast of Puerto Rico.
“Air and Marine Operations agents remain vigilant for illegal smuggling operations throughout the region and work tirelessly with our partners to protect our borders,” stated Johnny Morales Director of Air Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.
Monday night a CBP Maritime Patrol Aircraft crew detected a 21-foot wooden boat with 9 migrants onboard, approximately 15 nautical miles north of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. Shortly thereafter, the CBP aircrew detected a 25-foot fiberglass boat with 26 migrants, approximately 18 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The CBP AMO aircraft crew maintained surveillance of both vessels while a CBP Marine Unit and USCG cutter were deployed to intercept both vessels.
In one vessel 9 migrants were found onboard, seven men and two women, who claimed to be nationals of the Domunican Republic; and in the other 26 migrants were found, 19 claimed to be from the Dominican Republic (17 men and two women), and 7 men claimed to be Haitian.
All migrants onboard were all transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Kathleen Moore for safety and biometric processing to determine prior criminal or immigration records.
The USCG Kathleen Moore transferred custody of 6 Dominicans facing prosecution to awaiting Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Tuesday afternoon.
The Coast Guard will repatriate 28 migrants to the Dominican Republic.
CBP’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) serves and protects the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities conducting its mission between ports of entry, in the air and maritime environments and within the nation’s interior.
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.