Perhaps looking for a different pathway to the United States with the Mexican border finally being enforced, 34 illegal aliens attempted to reach the shores of Puerto Rico by sailing in a 25-foot wooden “yola” vessel in the middle of the night.
On board were 33 from the Dominican Republic and one from Haiti, with the breakdown being 31 men and three women. Four of the men will be charged with attempting to reenter the United States following a previous deportation.
The single outboard engine boat was detected by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft at 2:00 AM early Friday morning. They coordinated with the Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces for Rapid Action marine unit and the vessel was intercepted eight miles off the western coast of the island, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States.
“Air and Marine Agents are diligent to coordinate with partners any smuggling attempts through our coastal areas,” stated Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations at the CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch in a CBP press release.
Authorities utilized biometric technology to verify the 34 illegal aliens’ prior immigration encounters or criminal records.
The four being charged – Melvin Almonte-Gutierrez, Alfonso Rodriguez, Nicolas Santos and Lucas Dela Cruz-Alvarez – are citizens of the Dominican Republic and face a fine, 10-to-20 years of incarceration, or both.
The other 30 were repatriated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
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