In the early morning hours, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was on a routine patrol in the Mona Passage and indentified the migrants on the desolate, uninhabited island.
The aircraft crew also observed an unresponsive female in the water nearby. The Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo responded to the medical emergency, and the female was determined to be deceased. The Cutter Key Largo recovered the body.
“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the woman who lost her life in this tragedy,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “Migrants transiting this region often do so via small, overloaded and unseaworthy vessels putting themselves at great risk. Anyone transiting the area in this manner, risk suffering serious injuries or death.”
Quick to respond to the migrant landing, the Coast Guard Command Center alerted the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), a partnership of local and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Through a coordinated response, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a Customs Air and Marine Branch UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter safely removed a total of twenty-eight migrants, twenty-five Haitians and three Dominican nationals, from Mona Island.
The migrants were transported to Borinquen, Puerto Rico, where they were transferred to Border Patrol for further processing.
CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney‘s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
For more information on how to legally immigrate to the United States, call U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at 1-800-375-5283 or visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.