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Press Release | May 17, 2023

Coast Guard returns 96 of 102 migrants to the Dominican Republic, following 3 vessel interdictions in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard crews returned 96 of 102 people to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Tuesday, following three separate interdictions in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard, along with Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast partners, maintains a continual presence with air, land and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Winward Passage, the Mona Passage and the Caribbean Sea, collaborating to protect safety of life at sea. With their combined multi-layered approach, they were able to interdict several irregular maritime migration events over the past days.

The aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft patrolling the Mona Passage Monday, detected three grossly overloaded makeshift migrant vessels Monday transiting from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.  Coast Guard watch standers at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser and the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to intercept the suspect vessels.

The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser interdicted one makeshift vessel and embarked 50 persons, including 41 men, eight women, and a male minor, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.

The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos interdicted a second vessel with 19 people onboard, 15 men and four women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals. Cutter Joseph Tezanos also interdicted the third migrant vessel with 33 people onboard, 28 men and three women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, and two Haitian men.  The cutter’s crew safely embarked all the migrants from these two voyages.

The minor in this case remains aboard the cutter pending transfer coordination with Children and Adolescents National Council (CONANI) representatives in the Dominican Republic, as well as five other migrants, who are pending further immigration processing.

“Migrants seeking unlawful pathways to migrate across the Mona Passage are risking prosecution, repatriation to their country of origin, and being disqualified from legal entry to the United States in the future,” said Capt. José Díaz, Sector San Juan commander. “We urge anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage to not take to the sea, these voyages are highly dangerous.  Don’t place your life or the life of your loved ones at risk.”

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 31 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico.  Interdicted during this period, are 992 non-U.S. citizens including 758 Dominicans, 211 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian and one other unknown nationality.

Coast Guard Cutters Joseph Tezanos and Winslow Griesser are 154-foot fast response cutters 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.

“Make a difference on land, sea or in the air with the U.S. Coast Guard. Visit to find out how to be a part of the team.”

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