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Press Release | Aug. 29, 2023

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

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley crew repatriated 29 migrants to Dominican Republic, Monday, following the interdiction of an overloaded vessel in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

Five Dominican men interdicted in this voyage are facing federal prosecution at the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico on a range of charges including attempted illegal re-entry into the United States under 8 U.S.C. 1326(b); improper entry by a non-U.S. citizen under 8 U.S.C 1325; and bringing in and harboring unlawfully non-U.S. citizens under 8 U.S.C 1324.

During the interdiction Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley crew stopped a non-compliant 25-foot overloaded vessel after the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected the suspect vessel, approximately four nautical miles north of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

Cutter Donald Horsley’s crew embarked 33 migrants who claimed to be Dominicans and one Haitian, and transported the group to Dominican Republic territorial waters, where the at-sea repatriation of the migrants was completed to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel.

Meanwhile, the five migrants facing federal prosecution were transferred to Ramey Sector U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard, along with its 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. The HSTF-SE combined, multi-layered approach is designed to protect the safety of life at sea while preventing unlawful maritime entry to the United States and its territories.

“Irregular migration voyages in the Mona Passage are highly dangerous and an unlawful means to enter the United States,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response.  “Anyone thinking of taking part in one of these voyages must understand that their life will be at risk, and when they are interdicted at sea or apprehended ashore, they will not be allowed to stay in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Furthermore, anyone who arrives unlawfully will be repatriated to their country of origin and will be ineligible for legal immigration parole options.

Since Oct. 1, 2022 through August 28, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 64 irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 1,965 non-U.S. citizens including 1,675 Dominicans, 264 Haitians, 15 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian, two Colombians and one of unknown nationality.

Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

U.S. residents inquiring about family members potentially interdicted at sea by the Coast Guard, please contact the office of your local federal U.S. representative or Senator. 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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