SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon returned 34 migrants to the Dominican Republic Thursday, 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 Tuesday afternoon, the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a grossly overloaded makeshift vessel north of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watch standers in Sector San Juan diverted cutter Richard Dixon to carry out the interdiction. Once on scene, cutter Richard Dixon came alongside and safely embarked 34 persons from the grossly overloaded makeshift-wooden vessel. Among the interdicted were 30 men, two women and a female minor, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals. One other man in the group claimed to be Haitian.
The Coast Guard transferred 33 of the migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Thursday, while the minor was transferred to Children and Adolescents National Council (CONANI) representatives.
“The excellent coordination and quick response between our command center personnel and the responding air and surface units led to a successful interdiction and the safe return of all thirty-three migrants in this case,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “Unfortunately, these illegal voyages continue, and people often do not realize just how dangerous they are until it is too late. To anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage don’t take to the sea, it could save your life. If caught, you not only risk prosecution but also the possibility of legally entering 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 Richard Dixon is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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.