Human TraffickingMaritimeMigrationNews

US CBP Intercepts 63 Migrants from the Dominican Republic and Haiti in a Yola Vessel Near Southwestern Puerto Rico

Marine Agents of US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO), along with Puerto Rico Police, intercepted Friday a “yola” type vessel with 63 undocumented migrants. 

On Dec.1, two AMO maritime assets and one Puerto Rico Police Department Fuerzas Unidas de Rapida Accion (FURA) unit located a vessel crammed with migrants navigating east towards the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico. 

Agents escorted the vessel to the AMO boat station, where Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents arrested 63 undocumented migrants: 48 males and 6 females from the Dominican Republic, and 8 males and 1 female from Haiti.

“A voyage on a “yola” is dangerous when boarding a rustic wooden boat, which takes on water during the journey,” indicated Creighton Skeen, Director of Air and Marine Operations in the Caribbean.  “These unseaworthy vessels are only fitted with a single engine, they usually try to cross the sea overloaded and without life vests.”

People who venture to cross the 80 nautical miles (130 kilometer) between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, boarding such a rustic and inadequate vessel, endanger not only their lives, but the lives of law enforcement in both countries with the rescue mission.

“People who venture to enter the United States illegally not only expose themselves to being victims of the criminal organizations that transport them and the inherent danger of the trip, but they also expose themselves to the inconveniences of formal administrative or criminal prosecution if they are arrested by Border Patrol agents,” stated Desi DeLeon, Chief Patrol Agent for Ramey Sector in Puerto Rico.