SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard crews repatriated 73 migrants to the Dominican Republic between Saturday and Wednesday, following the interdiction of five overloaded vessels in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico.
During Monday’s interdictions, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicted a migrant vessel with nine migrants, approximately 12 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Cutter Heriberto Hernandez also interdicted a second migrant vessel with 11 migrants, approximately 53 nautical miles, north of Aguadilla. Fifteen migrants from these two cases were repatriated to the Dominican Republic, Tuesday.
During Sunday’s interdiction, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicted a migrant vessel with 16 migrants, approximately six nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Fourteen migrants from this group were repatriated to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel, Tuesday.
During Saturday’s interdiction, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier interdicted a migrant vessel with 38 migrants, approximately 88 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Thirty six migrants from this group were repatriated to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel, Tuesday.
During Friday’s interdiction, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action Marine Unit interdicted a migrant vessel, approximately two nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez arrived on scene and embarked the migrants, who were repatriated to the Dominican Republic, Saturday.
“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 or returned to the country they departed and may be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options.
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 Sep. 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 67 unlawful irregular maritime migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 2,161 non-U.S. citizens including 1,871 Dominicans, 264 Haitians, 15 Venezuelans, 07 Kazakhs, 01 Albanian, 02 Colombians and 01 unknown nationality.
Cutter Heriberto Hernandez and Cutter Joseph Napier are 154-foot Sentinel class fast response cutters 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.
Make a difference on land, at sea or in the air with the U.S. Coast Guard. Visit www.gocoastguard.com to find out how to be a part of the team.
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