U.S. agents rescue 79 Haitians, 5 crew in Mona Island shipwreck

U.S. agents rescue 79 Haitians, 5 crew in Mona Island shipwreck
Dominican Today – June 22, 2012

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

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

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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