AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – Four men from the Dominican Republic appeared last week before the US District Court in San Juan facing criminal charges after the US Border Patrol agents arrested them for transporting 43 Haitian migrants into Mona Island.
The Ramey Sector of the US Border Patrol issued a warning Friday into the dangers of crossing the Mona Passage and leaving migrants in the inhospitable island of Mona.
“We will continue to pursue criminal prosecution for anyone smuggling non-citizens into the United States,” stated Xavier Morales, chief patrol agent at the Ramey Sector. “Bringing non-citizens into Mona Island is a serious crime and puts lives at risk. We will bring the smugglers to justice.”
By narrowing immigration channels, more people seek the help of smugglers, who endanger the lives and integrity of migrants in their increasingly risky efforts to bypass border controls.
Carlos Javier Lopez, Josue Elias Robles, Jonathan Garcia and Mauricio Sosa Belen appeared before US Magistrate Judges Marcos E. Lopez and Marshal D. Morgan for their initial hearings. They are charged with violating Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324, for bringing in and harboring migrants.
A US Coast Guard cutter transported the group to the Mayaguez Port where Border Patrol took custody of the group for processing.
Assistant US attorney Evelyn Canals is prosecuting the cases.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to $250,000, or both.