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Press Release | Jan. 31, 2024

Coast Guard repatriates 28 migrants to Dominican Republic, following interdiction of unlawful migration voyage in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley’s crew repatriated 28 migrants to Dominican Republic, Tuesday, following the interdiction of an overloaded makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters off the western coast of Puerto Rico.  

One of the repatriated migrants transferred to Dominican Republic authorities has a standing warrant in the Dominican Republic for homicide.

During a maritime patrol Monday morning, the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a suspect vessel in Mona Passage waters, approximately 65 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.  Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark to intercept the grossly overloaded vessel. Once on scene, cutter Paul Clark deployed the cutter’s Over the Horizon small boat crew that was successful in stopping the vessel.  Following the interdiction, the cutter Paul Clark crew safely embarked the migrants and later transferred them to the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley for their repatriation.

The interdicted migrants were mostly Dominican Republic nationals as well as a Venezuelan and a Haitian, who were repatriated to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

“Unlawful irregular migration voyages most often take place aboard grossly overloaded makeshift vessels with no lifesaving equipment,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response.  “The vessels are always taking on water and in danger of capsizing, especially during the night.  It is very unfortunate that many migrants don’t realize the danger they are in until it is too late. Don’t’ take to the sea, it could save your life or the life of your loved ones.”

Migrants who are interdicted at sea or apprehended ashore will not be allowed to stay in the United States or a U.S. territory. Furthermore, anyone who arrives unlawfully may be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options and be repatriated to their country of origin or returned to the country from where the voyage departed from. 

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, 2023, through Jan. 12, 2024, the Coast Guard has carried out 24 unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 811 non-U.S. citizens including 745 Dominicans, and 66 Haitians.

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