Coast Guard Rescues 8 Cubans Stranded on Monito Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen yesterday hoisted to safety, eight Cuban migrants who were stranded on Monito Island, Puerto Rico since Saturday.

The migrants were allegedly smuggled into Puerto Rico from Haiti aboard an unidentified boat. They were located by the crew of a Florida Air National Guard C-26 fixed-wing aircraft at approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, while on a law enforcement patrol in the Mona Passage.

Coast Guard controllers diverted the Cutter Key Largo and launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen to rescue the stranded migrants.

The Coast Guard helicopter and the Key Largo arrived on scene and confirmed that there were five male and three female migrants on Monito waving their hands over their heads requesting assistance. The helicopter aircrew used their basket to hoist five Cuban migrants and transported them to Mona Island, returning to Monito to safely hoist the remaining three migrants. Once on Mona Island, six of the migrants boarded a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter while the remaining two migrants were transported by the Dolphin helicopter to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air Marine Branch in Aguadilla. All migrants were transferred safely to Border Patrol agents in Aguadilla at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“The migrants seriously endangered their lives by climbing the sharp rocks of Monito Island, said Lt. Cmdr. Adam Chamie, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo. They landed on an uninhabited island where they were lucky to have been found in time before any of them developed a severe case of dehydration or suffered a serious injury.”

Monito Island is an uninhabited island two and a half nautical miles northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. It is inaccessible by sea and is a subdivision of the municipality of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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