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 | April 25, 2024

Coast Guard repatriates 38 migrants to Dominican Republic following 2 interdictions near Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez repatriated 38 migrants to Dominican Republic, Wednesday, following two interdictions of unlawful, irregular migration attempts near Puerto Rico. 

The repatriated migrants were transferred to Dominican Republic authorities during a rendezvous with a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off the Dominican Republic. 

Two other interdicted migrants remain in U.S. custody facing criminal immigration charges in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico.

During Tuesday’s interdiction, Sunday, a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew sighted a 20-foot grossly overloaded makeshift vessel, approximately 45 nautical miles northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted cutter Heriberto Hernandez to intercept the suspect vessel. Following the interdiction, the Heriberto Hernandez crew embarked 13 migrants, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals. 

During Monday’s interdiction, the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft sighted a 30-foot grossly overloaded makeshift vessel, approximately 31 nautical miles west of Ricon, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Winslow Griesser to intercept the suspect vessel. Following the interdiction, the cutter crew embarked 31 migrants of which 27 claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals and four claimed to be Haitians.

“These interdictions are the result of the unwavering commitment, collaboration and partnerships the Coast Guard relies upon daily with our U.S. federal and Dominican Republic Navy partners to stop and deter unlawful maritime migration voyages in the Mona Passage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of enforcement. “These efforts save lives, as in this case in which the Coast Guard air and surface crews involved ensured the safety of all the migrants throughout their repatriation.”

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 October 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024, the Coast Guard has carried out 28 unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 932 non-U.S. citizens including 890 Dominicans, and 41 Haitians and one 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 our team. 

For breaking news, follow us on X (formerly Twitter). For additional information, find us on Facebook and Instagram.