Aguadilla, Puerto Rico - A combined effort by law enforcement authorities under the Caribbean Border Interagency Group intercepted last night a "yola" type vessel with 69 undocumented aliens on board seven miles off the northwestern coast of the island.
Near midnight, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Patrol Aircraft with crews from the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch and Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents, located a "yola" type vessel with a significant group of persons on board without navigational lights, approximately 12 nautical miles off the coast of Isabela..
Under constant surveillance by CBP MPA, a Coast Guard Sector San Juan cutter was notified of a 35-foot migrant boat traveling illegally to Puerto Rico, approximately 12 nautical miles off the coast of Isabela.
Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo arrived on scene, with the assistance of a CBP Marine Interceptor and CBP Blackhawk embarked all 69 migrants from their grossly overloaded boat that was taking on water.
The crew of the Sapelo destroyed the migrant boat as a hazard to navigation. They also processed the migrants' biographical information for the 58 men and 11 women, including taking their digital fingerprints and facial photographs, to determine if they had any criminal or illegal immigration history in the United States or a U.S. territory.
The USCG cutter Sapelo rendezvoused with Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents, who made immigration interviews of the migrants and took 28 Dominicans into custody to face criminal proceedings ashore.
The crew of the Sapelo repatriated the remaining 41 migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic as they turned custody of the migrants to awaiting Dominican Republic Naval authorities ashore.
The concept of CBIG resulted from a March 2006 collaboration of local Homeland Security components that effectively stemmed the increased flow of traffic across the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the United States Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid action (FURA) in their common goal of securing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal maritime traffic and gaining control of our nation's Caribbean borders.
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.