AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol Agents and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) apprehended 61 migrants from Cuba, Haiti and Dominican Republic during several incidents, this week within the Mona Passage.
Four men arrested for migrant smuggling and 5 for attempting to reenter, made an initial appearance yesterday before US District Court Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé.
Felix Abreu-Echevarria, Alex Manuel De La Cruz-Pimentel, Manuel Jimenez, Lougrant Anibal Rodriguez-De Leon, and Samuel Emilio Reyes, citizens of the Dominican Republic, face charges for violation of Title 8 United States Code Section 1326 for attempting to reenter after a previous deportation.
Cledin Perez-Feliz, Luis Moises Troncoso, Yunior Alexander Vega-Eusebio, and Erick Edgardo Vega-Reyna, citizens of the Dominican Republic, face charges for violation of Title 8 United States Code Section 1324, for attempting to bring in and harbor aliens.
“Our collective resolve is to arrest and prosecute smugglers who unnecessarily place migrants in danger, dropping them off in Mona Island,” stated Ramiro Cerrillo, Chief Patrol Agent at the Ramey Border Patrol Sector. “Nonetheless, it is our duty to reiterate our cautionary message.”
On Dec. 2, Park Rangers from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), on Mona Island, reported the arrival of 12 undocumented migrants (6 adult males, 4 adult females and 2 male juveniles) claiming to be Cuban nationals.
On Dec. 3, USCG Cutter Hernandez intercepted a 20 foot wooden vessel approximately 4 miles west of Mona Island, finding a total of 16 adult subjects (2 adult Dominican males, 11 adult Cuban males, 3 Cuban females). During the same day, 4 Cuban males reached Mona Island.
Near midnight of Dec. 4, a CBP Marine Patrol Aircraft detected a wooden vessel heading east near Mona Island, maintaining surveillance to assist the USCG cutter to intercept; finding 30 migrants on board (29 from Dominican Republic and 1 Haitian).
A USCG cutter repatriated 52 migrants to the Dominican Republic.
USCG transferred custody of the 9 defendants at the Mayaguez Port to Border Patrol Agents for immigration processing and prosecution.
Special Assistant US Attorney Nicholas Smith will lead the prosecution.
If convicted, defendants Cledin Perez-Feliz, Luis Moises Troncoso, Yunior Alexander Vega-Eusebio, Erick Edgardo Vega-Reyna, and Felix Abreu-Echevarria, face a fine and imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both.
If convicted, defendants Alex Manuel De La Cruz-Pimentel, Manuel Jimenez, Lougrant Anibal Rodriguez-De Leon, and Samuel Emilio Reyes, face a fine and imprisonment for up to 2 years.
All defendants are presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law.