AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico -- US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), US Coast Guard and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), working under the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), have intercepted 126 undocumented migrants from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti, in four separate events since January 20.
Among these four groups, 30 migrants with prior immigration or criminal records will be prosecuted for attempting to re-enter after a prior removal or attempting to enter without inspection. Among the prosecuted, there are subjects with previous aggravated felony convictions in the United States, including alien smuggling, narcotics violations and weapons law violations.
“Our CBIG partnership provides for a force multiplication to address smuggling ventures in the Mona Passage,” stated Ramiro Cerrillo, Chief Border Patrol Agent for Ramey Sector. “Migrants continue to place themselves at the mercy of smugglers who have complete disregard for their safety knowing all the dangers involved.”
Early Wednesday, a CBP Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) detected a “yola” coordinating an intercept by the PRPD FURA Marine Unit west of Rincon. A total of 21 undocumented migrants were found (20 Dominican Republic nationals, one Haitian). All migrants were embarked on a USCG cutter for repatriation procedures.
“A CBP aircraft consistently patrols throughout our Caribbean area with a firm determination to detect smuggling attempts,” indicated Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. “These four interceptions demonstrate our collective capabilities to deter attempts into our borders.”
After midnight January 22, a CBP AMO MPA detected a “yola” vessel, which the USCG Cutter Joseph Tezano intercepted north-west of Aguadilla, finding 37 migrants (two Cubans, two Haitians and 33 Dominican Republic nationals).
On January 21, the USCG Cutter Joseph Tezano Sunday, intercepted a 28 foot “yola” vessel northwest of Aguadilla, finding 38 undocumented aliens on board (six adult females and 32 adult males).
On Friday January 20, a CBP Maritime Patrol Aircraft detected a “yola” type vessel with an undetermined number of persons on board, coordinating with USCG Cutter Joseph Tezano to intercept, west of Aguadilla. A group of 30 undocumented aliens (three adult females and 27 adult males) were found, two claiming to be Haitian nationals and 28 claiming to be Dominican Republic nationals
Biometric reviews revealed that 30 migrants had prior immigration or criminal records for which they had been removed. Border Patrol agents took custody for processing. All subjects will be charged for violation of federal immigration laws.
The Coast Guard repatriated a group of 29 migrants Wednesday and 45 migrants Monday to La Romana, Dominican Republic.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group was formally created to unify efforts of the US Customs and Border Protection, the US 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 US Virgin Islands borders against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.