Coast Guard repatriates 5 of 9 migrants following interdiction in the Mona Passage

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bernard Webber file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bernard Webber file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bernard Webber, working alongside their Caribbean Border Interagency Group partners on Tuesday night, May 12, interdicted an illegal migrant voyage in the Mona Passage off Puerto Rico. Nine migrants were interdicted, all of whom were reported to be Dominican Republic nationals. Five of the migrants were repatriated to the Dominican Republic, while four remain in U.S. custody. Three of the four now face criminal immigration charges.

While on a routine patrol in the Mona Passage late Tuesday night, the Cutter Bernard Webber’s crew stopped the 25-foot yola type vessel and embarked all nine migrants. Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

The migrants facing potential federal prosecution and investigation were transferred Friday afternoon to Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, while the remaining migrants were transported by the cutter Bernard Webber crew to Dominican Republic waters off Punta Cana, where they were repatriated to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel.

“In the midst of this ongoing pandemic and upcoming hurricane season, the security of our nation’s southernmost maritime border has never been as important and relevant as today,” said Capt. Eric P. King, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “Our forces remain vigilant and ready to safeguard our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from illegal voyages, drug smuggling threats and in case of any potential tropical storms or hurricanes.”

The Caribbean Border Interagency Group 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.

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