Coast Guard suspends search for 3 missing migrants

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon file photo

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon file photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard suspended the search at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for three missing Dominican migrants near Rincon.

Search crews completed 16 searches covering more than 2,100 square miles.

“Suspending a search is one of my most difficult responsibilities,” said Capt. Eric King, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “I commend all the crews, including our partner agencies, who worked diligently, and through the night, to search for the missing men.”

The three Dominican men were last seen at 7 a.m. Wednesday wearing white disposable protective coveralls aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon (WPC-1113).

The cutter was transiting less than two miles from shore with 22 interdicted migrants aboard. The missing migrants were not wearing life jackets.

At 7:25 a.m. Wednesday Richard Dixon crew members noticed the three migrants missing. The crew contacted Coast Guard Sector San Juan and initiated a search.

On Monday, the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118) interdicted 27 migrants, including the missing men, aboard a disabled boat in the Mona Pass. The Joseph Tezanos crew transferred the 27 migrants to the Richard Dixon. Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

On Tuesday, five migrants were transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Puerto Rico to face potential federal criminal immigration charges for attempted illegal reentry into the U.S.

The Richard Dixon crew repatriated the remaining 19 migrants Thursday to the Dominican Republic.

Rescue crews involved in the search included:

  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules airplane
  • Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
  • Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon
  • Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Puerto Rico Police Joint Rapid Action Forces (FURA, for its Spanish acronym)
  • Rincon Municipal Police
  • Puerto Rico State Police

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