A U.S. Coast Guard port security team, assisted by DHS partner agencies Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), apprehended 10 stowaways from the Dominican Republic aboard the barge Sea Islander in San Juan yesterday (May 24).
Crewmembers on board the barge were complying with a Coast Guard requirement to check the vessel for stowaways prior to entering U.S. waters when they found evidence that some stowaways may be on board. The Master of the vessel notified the vessels agent (a local representative who assists with logistics and scheduling) who alerted the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in San Juan.
The Sea Islander departed
from Rio Haina, Dominican Republic on Thursday. Rio Haina has a history of being an embarkation point for stowaways, and the Sea Islander has experienced stowaways on board in the past as well.
The barge was escorted into San Juan harbor by the Coast Guard and met by a port security boarding team at Pier 14. The team entered the holds of the barge and inspected all of the accessible spaces, work continued throughout the afternoon and yielded ten illegals.
The stowaways had been aboard for at least three days and two required medical attention from injuries they received while underway, one with lacerations to the leg and the other with a pelvic injury.
Inspectors from CBP and Special Agents from ICE were on scene to assist and take the stowaways into custody. Puerto Rico Ports Authority security personnel also assisted in the shore side security efforts.