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Press Release | May 19, 2023

Coast Guard repatriates 29 migrants to the Dominican Republic, following multiple vessel interdictions in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard crews repatriated 29 people to the Dominican Republic Thursday, following multiple interdictions in the Mona Passage 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 Windward 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.

In Tuesday’s events, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a suspect makeshift vessel with eight Dominican Republic nationals, just off the coast of Aguada, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos that arrived on scene, where the crew embarked the migrants.

The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley interdicted a second makeshift vessel with 17 Dominican Republic nationals. Cutter Donald Horsley’s crew safely embarked all the people from this voyage.

“These successful interdictions are the result of the strong partnerships and daily collaboration between local and federal Caribbean Border Interagency Group partners, who work to protect the nation’s borders and save lives from the dangers of illegal maritime migration events,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “We urge anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage to not take to the sea, you would be placing your life at risk and the life of everyone else in the voyage.  If caught, you could face possible prosecution, be returned to your country of origin, or be disqualified from entering the United States legally in the future.”

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 Donald Horsley 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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