Coast Guard returns 40 migrants to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney

Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore returned 40 migrants to the Dominican Republic between Tuesday and Wednesday, following the interdiction of an illegal voyage vessel in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico.

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

During a routine patrol late Sunday night, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a grossly overloaded makeshift vessel north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watch standers in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore to carry out the interdiction. Once on scene, cutter Kathleen Moore came alongside and safely embarked 40 persons from the 25-foot blue-wooden vessel. Among the interdicted were five men and two females, including a female minor, who claimed to be Haitian nationals. There were also 31 men and two women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.

The Coast Guard transferred 38 of the migrants to Dominican Republic Navy authorities in Punta Cana Dominican Republic Tuesday, while the minor and her mother were transferred to Children and Adolescents National Council (CONANI) representatives in the Dominican Republic Wednesday.

“To anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage, don’t take to the sea, you are risking your life” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response. “These voyages are highly dangerous as they occur aboard unseaworthy vessels with no lifesaving equipment, and, if caught, you also risk prosecution and the possibility of not being able to legally enter the United States in the future.”

Since October 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 25 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 777 non-U.S. citizens including 568 Dominicans, 195 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans and 01 unknown nationality.

Cutter Kathleen Moore is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Miami.

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.

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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