Coast Guard repatriates 50 of 51 migrants to the Dominican Republic

A makeshift vessel transporting 13 migrants, Dominican Republic nationals, was interdicted by a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit the morning June 11, 2020 just off the coast of Rincón, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley (WPC-1117) repatriated the group to the Dominican Republic in the afternoon, along with 37 migrants from a second interdiction which occurred June 9, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

A makeshift vessel transporting 13 migrants, Dominican Republic nationals, was interdicted by a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit the morning June 11, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley (WPC-1117) repatriated 50 of 51 migrants to the Dominican Republic Navy Thursday in waters just off Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of two illegal migrant voyages just off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Of the 51 interdicted migrants, 49 are reported to be Dominican Republic nationals, while two others are reported to be Haitian. One of the migrants remains in U.S. custody facing criminal immigration charges.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).


“These interdictions speak to the strong local and federal law enforcement partnerships within the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and our collective resolve to safeguard the nations southernmost maritime border against existing threats,” said Capt. Eric P. King, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “The efficient coordination between responding agencies led to these successful interdictions and the safe recovery of all 51 migrants. These illegal voyages are extremely dangerous, as migrants continue to take to the sea aboard grossly overloaded and unseaworthy makeshift vessels with little or no lifesaving equipment onboard.”

Late Tuesday night, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a 25-foot yola with 38 migrants aboard, 36 men and 2 women, including the two Haitian men, approximately three nautical miles off the coast of Aguada, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser (WPC-1116) diverted to the scene and embarked the migrants from the makeshift vessel, while a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen flew overhead rescue support throughout the transfer.

Early Thursday morning, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a second yola transporting 13 migrants, approximately one nautical mile off the lighthouse in Rincón, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark (WPB-87371) arrived on scene shortly thereafter and embarked all 13 migrants from the makeshift boat.

The migrant facing potential federal prosecution was transferred to the custody of Border Patrol Agents in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico Thursday, while the remaining migrants were transferred and transported by the cutter Donald Horsley to the Dominican Republic for their repatriation.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction Coast Guard crewmembers were equipped with Personal Protective Equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19. No migrants were reported to be sick or to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.

Cutters Winslow Griesser and Donald Horsley are 154-foot fast response cutters, while cutter Reef Shark is an 87-foot coastal patrol boat; they are all homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Operation Caribbean Guard is a Department of Homeland Security multi-agency law enforcement operation to support ongoing efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands being executed under the San Juan Regional Coordinating Mechanism (SJ ReCoM)/Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

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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