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Press Release | Jan. 25, 2023

Coast Guard rescues 17 Haitian migrants left stranded by smugglers on Monito Island, Puerto Rico

Coast Guard rescues 17 Haitian migrants left stranded by smugglers on Monito Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon rescued 17 Haitians Wednesday, 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 of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

Coast Guard watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico received a communication Sunday evening from the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft reporting the sighting of a group of migrants stranded on Monito Island, Puerto Rico.  A Customs and Border Protection helicopter aircrew delivered food and water to Monito Island Monday evening.

Following interagency coordination efforts to carry out the rescue operation, the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon arrived on-scene and deployed the cutter’s Over the Horizon boat to approach Monito Island. Once the small boat was in position, the crew provided lifejackets to the migrants, before each of them took their turn jumping onto a life ring that the boat crew used to safely recover them from the water.

“Monito Island poses significant risk to persons trying to land there,” said Lt. Nicholas Rogers, Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon Commanding Officer. I’m incredibly proud of how my crew executed this rescue operation to save 17 lives.”

“Migrants continue to be fooled by smugglers whose falsehoods put them in peril and complicate their situation,” stated Desi Deleon, Acting Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Sector. “Haitian and Cubans who take to the sea and land on U.S. soil will be ineligible for the parole process and will be placed in removal proceedings.” 

Once onboard cutter Richard Dixon, the migrant group of eight men and nine women was 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, are 419 non-U.S. citizens including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and 01 of unknown nationality.

Cutter Richard Dixon is a Coast Guard 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, 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.

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