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Press Release | June 13, 2023

Coast Guard repatriates 56 people to the Dominican Republic, following migrant vessel interdiction in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser repatriated 56 migrants to the Dominican Republic, Monday, following a makeshift vessel interdiction 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 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 this unlawful, irregular maritime migration event.

“To anyone thinking of taking part in a maritime irregular migration event we urge you to not take to the sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “Your life and the lives of everyone in the voyage will be at risk, since most often these voyages have no lifesaving equipment, they are unseaworthy and could easily capsize. If you attempt these voyages, you risk prosecution, will be returned to your country of origin, and may be disqualified from entering the United States legally in the future.”

During the interdiction, the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser and a Customs and Border Protection marine unit interdicted a 30-foot grossly overloaded makeshift vessel, after it was initially detected by the aircrew of Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft, approximately 24 nautical miles west of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. A Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft also launched and provided air surveillance coverage in support of this case. Following the interdiction, the crew of the cutter Winslow Griesser embarked all 56 adult migrants of which 55 claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, and one claimed to be Haitian.

The cutter Winslow Griesser crew transferred all 56 migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off the coast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for repatriation Monday afternoon.

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has interdicted 46 migrant vessels in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, were 1,473 non-U.S. citizens including 1,209 Dominicans, 242 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian, one Colombian, and one other of unknown nationality.

Cutter Winslow Griesser is a 154-foot fast response cutter that is 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 family members who are U.S. residents to follow the same process on your behalf.

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