An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Press Release | Feb. 20, 2024

Coast Guard repatriates 72 migrants to Dominican Republic, following unlawful migration voyage interdiction in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle repatriated 71 migrants to San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Saturday, following the interdiction of an unlawful irregular migration voyage in the Mona Passage.

The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos repatriated one other migrant from this case to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel, Monday, just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The interdiction occurred after the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a grossly overloaded makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters southwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Thursday night. The suspect vessel was transiting from the Dominican Republic to enter the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Joseph Doyle to interdict the suspect vessel.  Once on scene, the cutter Joseph Doyle crew stopped the vessel and safely embarked the migrants. Following the interdiction, 68 of the migrants claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals while four others who claimed to be Haitian nationals.

“The Coast Guard works daily with our local, federal and Dominican Republic Navy partners in our shared resolve to stop unlawful maritime migration voyages in the Mona Passage,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of response.  “Migrants should not take to the sea; this is a highly dangerous voyage which will put their lives at risk. These voyages are highly unstable and risk capsizing since they mostly take place aboard unseaworthy and grossly overloaded vessels that continuously take on water and have little or no live saving equipment.”

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. 31, 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 780 non-U.S. citizens including 742 Dominicans, and 37 Haitians 01 Venezuelan.

Make a difference on land, at sea or in the air with the Coast Guard.  Visit to find out how to be part of a team. 

For breaking news, follow us on Twitter. For additional information, find us on Facebook and Instagram.