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Press Release | Sept. 23, 2023

Coast Guard repatriates 140 migrants to Dominican Republic, following 2 vessel interdictions in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle crew repatriated 140 migrants between Friday and Saturday to Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of two makeshift vessels in Mona Passage waters west coast of Puerto Rico.

“Anyone taking part in an irregular migration voyage aboard a grossly overloaded vessel is putting their life in danger,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander.  “The Coast Guard is fully committed alongside our fellow partner agencies to work diligently in stopping these unlawful voyages to prevent the needless loss of life at sea.”

Furthermore, anyone who is interdicted at sea during as part of an unlawful migration voyage to the United States will be repatriated to their country of origin and will be ineligible for legal immigration parole options.

During a routine patrol Thursday night, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft detected two overloaded vessels in waters, approximately 75 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.  Coast Guard Sector San Juan watch standers diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle to interdict the suspect vessels.  Once on scene, the cutter Joseph Doyle crew stopped and embarked all passengers from the first grossly overloaded vessel.  Once the migrants were safely onboard, cutter Joseph Doyle’s crew proceeded to stop and embark all passengers from the second grossly overloaded vessel.

The repatriated migrant group is comprised of 137 Dominican Republic nationals, 108 men and 29 women, and three Haitians, two men and a woman. 

Cutter Joseph Doyle transported the migrants to Dominican Republic territorial waters, Friday, where heavy sea state conditions only allowed for the transfer of 104 migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel south of Puna Cana.  The cutter Joseph Doyle crew transferred the remaining 36 migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy, Saturday, completing their repatriation.

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.

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 Joseph Doyle 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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