Coast Guard rescues 12 Cubans stranded on Monito Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard helicopter crews from Air Station Borinquen hoisted to safety 12 Cuban migrants Friday, who were stranded on Monito Island, Puerto Rico since Thursday.

The migrants were allegedly smuggled into Puerto Rico from Dominican Republic aboard an unidentified boat. They were located by the crew of a Customs and Border Protection Dash-8 aircraft, while on a law enforcement patrol in the Mona Passage Thursday evening.

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen launched two HH-65 Dolphin helicopters to rescue the migrants.

The Coast Guard helicopters arrived on scene and observed 12 Cuban men on Monito Island waving their hands over their heads requesting assistance. The helicopter aircrews hoisted the Cuban migrants and transported five of them to Mona Island and seven others to Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla. The five remaining Cubans boarded a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter and were transported 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 1:30 p.m. Friday.

“Migrant smugglers seriously endangered the lives of these 12 Cuban men by having them make a dangerous climb on the jagged rocks of Monito Island,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rodrigo Rojas, Sector San Juan Chief of Law Enforcement. “The migrants were fortunate to be found 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.

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