Coast Guard stops migrant boat, arrests 3 suspected criminal gang members wanted for deadly shooting | Blaze Media


The United States Coast Guard stopped a migrant boat headed for America, leading to the arrest of three fugitives allegedly affiliated with a criminal gang, according to a Tuesday press release.

The Coast Guard reported that the “unlawful migration voyage” was interdicted on Friday in Mona Passage, a strait separating Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.

The 20-foot boat was spotted Friday morning by aircrew with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations multi-role enforcement aircraft, the Coast Guard’s press release explained.

Eight individuals and multiple cockfighting roosters were found on board. The migrants told the Coast Guard that they departed from the Dominican Republic and were heading to Puerto Rico when their boat experienced engine malfunctions. The crew had attempted to turn the ship around and head back when they were discovered by authorities.

An investigation by the Dominican Republic Navy and Homeland Security Investigations revealed that three of the individuals were U.S. citizens with outstanding warrants. The Coast Guard stated that the three are “affiliated with a criminal gang and wanted in connection with a July 2020 shooting at a residential community in Puerto Rico in which four people were killed.”

Lt. Vincente Garcia, Coast Guard liaison to the Dominican Republic, stated, “Our strong partnerships and daily collaboration between all federal partner agencies involved in this case as well as Dominican Republic Navy and Dominican law enforcement authorities resulted in the safe repatriation of five migrants and the apprehension of three wanted U.S. citizens.”

“These efforts are instrumental to achieving regional stability and safeguarding our nation’s southernmost maritime border from dangers and threats associated with unlawful migration and other prevalent illicit maritime activity,” Garcia added.

The Coast Guard noted that migrants apprehended at sea or ashore “will not be allowed to stay in the United States or a U.S. territory.” Illegal migrants are either returned to their country of origin or the country from where they departed, it noted.

Last week, the Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying 19 Cuban nationals near Key West, Florida.

Lt. Peter Hutchison, Coast Guard Seventh District Enforcement Branch, said, “Migrants attempting to enter the U.S. unlawfully by sea will be disqualified indefinitely from the legal immigration parole policy for Cubans and Haitians.”

“Migrants intercepted at sea, regardless of their nationality, will not be permitted to enter the United States. Those without a legal basis to remain in the U.S. will also be removed,” Hutchison noted.

So far, in fiscal year 2024, the Coast Guard has repatriated 367 Cuban migrants.

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