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Press Release | Oct. 20, 2023

Coast Guard repatriates 31 migrants to Dominican Republic following vessel interdiction in Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard crews repatriated 31 migrants to Dominican Republic Thursday, following the interdiction of an overloaded vessel in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico, Wednesday. 

Three of the repatriated migrants were interdicted in separate irregular migration voyage events earlier in the week.

During the interdiction, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a 27-foot migrant vessel with 28 migrants, approximately six nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez arrived on scene shortly thereafter and embarked 25 men and three women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals. 

“We commend the Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action who, along with our other Caribbean Border Interagency Group partners, have been instrumental in interdicting irregular migration voyages and saving live in the Mona Passage,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response. “We call to anyone thinking of migrating unlawfully across the Mona Passage that they don’t take to the sea. These voyages are highly dangerous and most often take place aboard makeshift vessels with little or no lifesaving equipment.” 

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 is a 154-foot Sentinel class 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. 

Make a difference on land, at 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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