Dominican Today -
AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – An elaborate operation has been undertaken since late yesterday by federal and state law enforcement authorities, under the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), to remove 79 undocumented Haitian aliens and 5 vessel crewmembers from Mona Island.
CBIG authorities confirmed that 84 persons (65 Male, 19 Female) were on board a Honduran flagged 185-foot coastal freighter named “Jireh” which ran aground yesterday morning just off Uvero Beach in Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Park Rangers from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) found the group and the vessel yesterday notifying federal authorities prompting the response operation.
This morning US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agents assumed custody of 42 Haitian undocumented aliens which were transported to the Ramey Border Patrol Station, Aguadilla, for immigration processing. At the island 42 male aliens remain.
Air and Marine units from CBP, USCG, DNER, Puerto Rico National Guard and the Puerto Rico Police’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym) have been transporting additional agents and officers from the respective agencies, as well as provisions and materials to address the needs of the large group.
An Incident Command Post and Unified Command comprised of federal, state and industry agencies and organization has been established at Coast Guard Base San Juan to manage response and salvage efforts of the coastal freighter Jireh. The Incident Command Post includes Coast Guard, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, U. S. Fish and Wildlife, the National Atmospheric & Oceanic Administration, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and Clean Harbors as the contracted Oil Spill Response Organization. The Unified Command is coordinating response and salvage efforts and conducting a more thorough assessment to determine the condition of the vessel and mitigate any environmental impact caused by the vessel grounding.
Federal law establishes that all foreign flagged vessels who are about to enter a US territory must notify CBP its intent and request admission at a designated point of entry. Furthermore, U. S. immigration law prohibits entering or attempt to enter without requesting admission at a port of entry by immigration officers.
According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), while smuggling by sea accounts only for a small portion of overall migrant smuggling around the world, the particular dangers of irregular travel at sea make it a priority for response; due to the reported fact that more deaths occur by sea.
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