Coast Guard returns 75 migrants to the Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard returned 75 migrants to the Dominican Republic between Saturday and Monday, following the interdiction of two illegal voyage vessels in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing local and federal multi-agency efforts in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

Two Dominican men interdicted in these voyages are 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) and (b).

The first interdiction occurred Thursday night during a routine patrol in which the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a suspect vessel northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watch standers in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon to intercept the suspect vessel. Once on scene, cutter Richard Dixon safely embarked 41 persons from a grossly overloaded makeshift vessel. Among the interdicted were 28 men and 12 women, and a female minor, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals. The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser later embarked the migrants and transferred 37 of them to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Saturday, while the minor and her mother were transferred to Children and Adolescents National Council (CONANI) representatives in the Dominican Republic.

The second interdiction occurred Sunday afternoon during a routine patrol in which the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier detected and interdicted an illegal voyage vessel in waters northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The cutter crew embarked 36 people from a 30-foot grossly overloaded makeshift vessel. Interdicted were 32 men and two women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, and two Haitian men. The group was transferred a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Monday just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The two migrants facing federal prosecution were transferred to Ramey Sector U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

“The Coast Guard’s resolve to interdict illegal voyage vessels is unwavering, as these voyages dangerous and place the lives of everyone in the voyage at risk,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response. “These voyages are highly dangerous and most often occur aboard unseaworthy vessels with no lifesaving equipment. Migrants need to realize that if they are caught, they not only risk prosecution, but also the possibility of not being able to legally enter the United States in the future.”

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 31 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 992 non-U.S. citizens including 758 Dominicans, 211 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian and one other unknown nationality.

Cutter Richard Dixon, cutter Winslow Griesser, and cutter Joseph Napier, are 154-foot fast response cutters 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.

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