28 November 2006

Coast Guard Uses Biometrics, Identifies, Detains One Suspect

The U.S. Coast Guard has adopted high-tech measures to combat human smuggling and illegal immigration efforts on the high seas. USCG District 7 PAO reports.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The crew of Coast Guard cutter Key Largo used biometrics, digital fingerprints and photographs, during an interdiction Sunday night in the Mona Passage, to identify one person who had previously been deported and was attempting to illegally enter the United States.

The suspect was aboard a yola carrying 13 Dominican migrants that was interdicted by the Key Largo 24 nautical miles northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The suspect was identified using the biometric information and comparing it against US-VISIT's databases, which includes information about wanted criminals and immigration violators. The suspect was detained along with two other migrants and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol Tuesday. The other 10 migrants were repatriated to La Romana, Dominican Republic at approximately 9 a.m. today.

The yola was initially located by an HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen flew rescue support during the transfer of migrants from the yola to the Key Largo.

The biometric capability employed in this case provides the Coast Guard with an important tool to definitively establish the identity of those interdicted at sea who may attempt to enter or re-enter the United States illegally, or who may pose a threat to national security.

Collecting biometric identification supports the U.S. Government's efforts to target human smugglers and protect migrants put at risk attempting to enter the United States illegally from the sea.

The Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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