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Press Release | Feb. 28, 2024

Coast Guard rescues 12 migrants following unlawful voyage interdiction in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle’s crew rescued 12 male migrants from a capsized vessel, Monday, following the interdiction of an unlawful irregular maritime migration voyage in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle’s crew repatriated 11 of the migrants, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Wednesday afternoon.

During a Monday evening patrol, a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew detected a suspect vessel in Mona Passage waters southwest of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle to intercept the vessel. Once on scene, cutter Joseph Doyle’s crew observed packages being jettisoned from the suspect vessel shortly before capsizing.  Cutter Joseph Doyle’s crew, with the assistance of the cutter's Over the Horizon small boat, rescued all 12 persons from the water.  Following the rescue, cutter Joseph Doyle crewmembers discovered three holes in the suspect vessel’s hull which appeared to have been unplugged to scuttle the vessel.

“The interagency collaboration and quick response from all units allowed for the rescue or all the migrants and prevented a potential tragedy,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, Sector San Juan chief of response. “Efforts to scuttle the vessel show just how far ruthless smugglers can go in risking the lives of everyone in a voyage.”

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.  

Anyone who arrives unlawfully to the United States will be repatriated to their country of origin or returned to the country they departed from, and they may also be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options.

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.

Cutter Joseph Doyle is a 154-foot Sentinel class fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  

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.  

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