AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police Department assets detected and intercepted Tuesday a makeshift wooden vessel with 22 undocumented migrants from the Dominican Republic and Brazil 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.
Late afternoon a CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Maritime Patrol Aircraft detected a “yola” type vessel traveling east, north of Aguadilla.
The AMO aircraft crew maintained surveillance of the vessel while a CBP Marine Unit, a PRPD FURA Marine Unit and USCG Cutter Winslow Griesser were deployed to intercept.
The law enforcement assets reached and intercepted the vessel 9 miles north of Aguadilla, finding 22 migrants onboard.
The 22 migrants, 13 males from Dominican Republic and 9 Brazilians onboard were all transferred to the Coast Guard cutter for safety and biometric processing.
A USCG cutter will repatriate 15 migrants to the Dominican Republic.
A group of 7 (4 Brazilian and 3 Dominican) were brought to the Mayaguez port where CBP Border Patrol Agents assumed custody for prosecution under US immigration law.
CBP’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) serve and protect the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities conducting its mission between ports of entry, in the maritime environment and within the nation’s interior.
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.