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U.S. Border Patrol, Local Partners Apprehend 14 Aliens after Makeshift Vessel Capsizes; three Persons Drowned

Release Date: 
September 16, 2019

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico –U.S. Border Patrol, along with local partners, apprehended 14 aliens Sunday after an extensive search stemming from the capsizing of a “yola” type makeshift vessel near Martinica beach in the northwestern coast.  Three suspected migrants drowned and local first responders recovered their bodies on Saturday evening.  Local partnes revise the yola vessel that capsized near Aguadila, Puerto Rico

“We have witnessed this unfortunate event in other occasions when migrants are smuggled into the island,” stated Xavier Morales, Chief Patrol Agent of the Ramey Sector. “We continue to warn potential migrants about the dangers of making such a treacherous journey through the Mona Passage.”  

On. Sep. 14, the Isabela Municipal Police contacted Ramey Border Patrol after they had detained a group of nine aliens, 7 males and 2 females, from the Dominican Republic near Villa Montaña beach.  The Isabela PD reported that a “yola” had capsized near Martinica beach. 

The US Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA, or its Spanish acronym) marine units responded to the area.  The Puerto Rico Police found 2 dead bodies and found a third body thereafter. 

During the morning of Sep. 15, Ramey Border Patrol agents found five more illegal aliens near Aguadilla.  Under federal immigration law, 12 males and 2 females are being processed.

The Puerto Rico District Attorney assumed custody and disposition of the three bodies for further investigation.

Coast Guard rescue crews ended a search Sunday afternoon for possible survivors of a migrant vessel.

By reducing immigration channels, more people seek the help of smugglers, who endanger the lives of migrants in their increasingly risky efforts to bypass border controls.

The dangers of the trip have three possible outcomes: the loss of life at sea, the victimization of undocumented persons by smuggler organizations, and possible criminal prosecution.

People who venture to cross the 80 nautical miles (130 kilometers) between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, boarding a rustic and inadequate vessel, endanger not only their lives, but also the lives of law enforcement officials of both countries with the mission to rescue them.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its 2011 report on immigrant trafficking across the sea, illicit trafficking of migrants by sea produces the highest number of deaths worldwide.

To date Border Patrol has apprehended and processed 550 aliens throughout Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, 26% of whom have prior criminal history.  

The Ramey Sector is one of the twenty-one Sectors spread out across the United States. Encompassing the U.S. territorial islands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it is the only Border Patrol Sector located outside the continental United States. The Sector's entire border area is made up of coastline and its area of responsibility is made up of some 6,000 square miles of land and water area, including the twelve-mile band of territorial water surrounding the Islands.

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Last modified: 
September 16, 2019