|(military.com) - The Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague repatriated 21 Dominicans and one Haitian to the Dominican Republic Saturday, following an at-sea migrant interdiction Thursday by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities, approximately 13 nautical miles off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
The crew of the Chincoteague transferred custody of the 22 migrants to the crew of the Dominican Republic navy patrol boat Orion at 8 a.m. Saturday, during an at-sea transfer in Dominican Republic territorial seas.
“Migrants risk their lives by trusting ruthless and unscrupulous smugglers with their well being during a very dangerous and perilous voyage,” said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. “They travel aboard unseaworthy vessels that are in serious danger of capsizing, which could cost the lives of the migrants onboard.”
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico agreed to prosecute nine other Dominicans of which six are to face charges for illegal entry and three others for illegal reentry into a United States Territory.
Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders received a radio transmission Thursday night from the crew of a Customs and Border Protection dash-8 aircraft, reporting they had located a migrant vessel transiting towards Cabo Rojo.
Coast Guard Watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague to interdict the migrant vessel, while Customs and Border Protection and Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action (FURA) marine units also responded. The crew of the Puerto Rico Police marine unit arrived on scene and interdicted the 27-foot migrant vessel with 31 people onboard; 27 men and four women.
The Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague arrived on scene shortly thereafter, embarked the migrants and collected their biographical information, including 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 Chincoteague rendezvoused with CBP Border Patrol agents in Añasco, Puerto Rico Friday afternoon, where Border Patrol agents took the nine Dominican men into custody.
The Chincoteague proceeded to transit to Dominican Republic territorial seas, where they rendezvoused with the Dominican navy patrol boat Orion and completed the repatriation of the remaining 22 migrants.
Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.