SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard crews repatriated 14 migrants to Dominican Republic, Monday, following the interdiction of a grossly overloaded makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico.
One other Dominican man interdicted in the group remains in federal custody and is facing federal prosecution at the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico on a charge of attempted illegal re-entry into the United States under 8 U.S.C. 1326.
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.
During the interdiction, a U.S. Border Patrol agents reported sighting an irregular, unlawful migration voyage off the coast of Aguadilla early Sunday morning. A responding Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted the suspect vessel as Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley and Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez arrived on scene. Following the interdiction, cutter Heriberto Hernandez’s crew embarked 15 Dominican nationals, 14 men and a woman, and transported them to Dominican Republic territorial waters where they were transferred to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel for repatriation. The remaining migrant was transported to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where U.S. Border Patrol Ramey Sector agents received custody.
“The strong collaboration and resolve among the Caribbean Border Interagency Group partner agencies continues to deliver successful outcomes as achieved in this case,” said Capt. Jose E. Diaz, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “To anyone thinking of taking part in an unlawful irregular migration voyage, don’t take to the sea! Your life will be in danger since these vessels are unseaworthy, highly unstable and have little or no lifesaving equipment.”
Furthermore, anyone who arrives unlawfully will be repatriated to their country of origin or departure and may be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options.
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 Donald Horsley 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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