Coast Guard returns 71 migrants to the Dominican Republic

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicts a 29-foot makeshift boat that was traveling illegally to Puerto Rico with 11 migrants Oct. 18, 2021, in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico. The migrant group was repatriated to the Dominican Republic Oct. 20, 2021. The interdiction is the result of ongoing local and federal multi-agency efforts in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group CBIG to stop illegal migrant voyages at sea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicts a 29-foot makeshift boat that was traveling illegally to Puerto Rico with 11 migrants Oct. 18, 2021, in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard returned 71 migrants, 56 Haitians and 15 Dominicans, between Sunday and Wednesday to the Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of five illegal voyages in Mona Passage waters in the Caribbean.

Six other men, Dominican Republic nationals apprehended during these interdictions, are facing federal criminal prosecution in Puerto Rico on migrant smuggling charges. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution in this case.

  • Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon interdicted a 25-foot makeshift boat Oct. 16, 2021, approximately 37 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicted a 20-foot makeshift boat Monday, approximately 29 nautical miles northeast of the Dominican Republic.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos interdicted a 20-foot makeshift boat Tuesday, approximately three nautical miles west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a second 20-foot makeshift boat Tuesday, approximately three nautical miles off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicted a 20-foot makeshift boat Wednesday just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

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

“Our Coast Guard men and women remain vigilant working alongside our Caribbean Border Interagency Group partner agencies to stop illegal migrant voyages in the Mona Passage,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of response. These voyages dangerous, and we urge anyone considering taking part in one that they not take to the sea, they will be putting their life at risk aboard unseaworthy and grossly overloaded vessels, and if caught, they may face prosecution for migrating illegally to the United States.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19.

Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents received custody of the six suspected smugglers Wednesday in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

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.

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.

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