US CBP Officers Find and Arrest Six Stowaways Arriving in a Barge to San Juan

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers apprehended six men from the Dominican Republic who traveled as stowaways inside a barge named M/V Charlotte Bridge that arrived Tuesday to the Puerto Nuevo pier.

“Incidents like these are a clear indication of the great lengths and personal risks people are willing to take to illegally enter the United States,” Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. “I am very proud of the diligence and professionalism demonstrated by our CBP Officers and partner agencies in our ongoing efforts to protect our borders and communities.”

Officers from the Anti-terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) started a search after the US Coast Guard informed CBP of individuals that had jumped ship off the barge Charlotte Bridge arriving from Jacksonville, Florida, at the Luis Ayala Colon Pier in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Charlotte Bridge had a navigation route which traversed approximately 35 nautical miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

CBP Officers, along with San Juan Municipal Police, Puerto Rico Police and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, extensively searched the facilities and were able to arrest six individuals after several hours. 

Special Agent in Charge of HSI San Juan, Rebecca Gonzalez-Ramos, said: “Entering into an unlawful venture at sea is dangerous and can put many lives at risk including those of law enforcement officers on the job. HSI is responsible for our borders safety and this practice is illegal and dangerous.  HSI agents responded quickly and along with our partners were able to safely apprehend 6 individuals, three of them will be prosecuted criminally.”

Further inspections revealed that three men had prior records and will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.  Three will be formally removed. 

CBP Field Operations continues to discourage non-citizens from making this dangerous journey to seek unlawful entry into the United States.

“We encourage everyone seeking entry into the United States to do so by legal means through an available immigration process and a designated port of entry”, said Director Vaquero.