Coast Guard repatriates 39 migrants to the Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos repatriated 39 migrants to the Dominican Republic Saturday, following the interdiction of an illegal voyage vessel in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico Friday morning.

One other man from this case, also a Dominican Republic national, is facing federal prosecution at the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico on charges of attempted illegal re-entry into the United States under 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). The man also has an outstanding federal warrant from Boston, Mass. for identify theft.

The interdiction is the result of ongoing local and federal multi-agency efforts in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group, CBIG.

During a routine patrol late Thursday night, the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a 40-foot makeshift boat, approximately 38 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan directed the launch of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos. Once on scene, the Coast Guard helicopter aircrew and the cutter Joseph Tezanos completed the interdiction. Afterwards, the crew safely embarked 39 adults, eight women and 31 men, and a 17-year-old unaccompanied male minor.

The adult migrants were repatriated to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, while the unaccompanied minor was transferred to the Children and Adolescents National Council (CONANI) in the Dominican Republic.

U.S. Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents received custody of the man facing prosecution in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Saturday.

“The successful outcome of this case is due to the outstanding collaboration between responding units and our partner agencies in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic,” Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “Irregular maritime migration is highly dangerous, most often takes place aboard grossly overloaded unseaworthy vessels. If you are thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage, do not take to the sea! You could lose your life.”

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 25 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 777 non-U.S. citizens including 568 Dominicans, 195 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans and 01 unknown nationality.

Cutter Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Family members in the United States inquiring about possible family members interdicted at sea, please contact your local U.S. representative. Relatives located outside the United States please contact your local U.S. Embassy.

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, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

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