Coast Guard rescues 19 Haitians stranded by smugglers on Monito Island

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier file photo.

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier file photo.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier rescued 19 Haitians Sunday, who were left abandoned by smugglers on the uninhabited natural reserve of Monito Island, Puerto Rico.

The rescue was part of ongoing multi-agency efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

Coast Guard watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico received a communication from the cutter Joseph Napier Thursday afternoon reporting 19 migrants stranded on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island located just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Heavy sea-state conditions delayed rescue efforts until Sunday when conditions improved and allowed the cutter Joseph Napier’s Over the Horizon boat to approach Monito Island. Once the cutter small boat was in position, each person on the cliff put on a lifejacket and took their turn jumping into the water from where they were safely recovered by the small boat crew.

“The small boat crew’s thorough assessment of the situation and their actions led to the safe rescue of all 19 survivors.” said Lt. Devonte Weems, Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier commanding officer. “People are risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones at sea without realizing how dangerous these voyages can be.”

Once onboard cutter Joseph Napier, the group was provided food, water, and basic medical care. The survivors, 10 men and nine women, were transferred to Ramey Sector U.S Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022, the Coast Guard has carried out 14 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, were 419 non-U.S. citizens including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and 01 of unknown nationality.

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

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