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Coast Guard Sends 74 Migrants Back to Dominican Republic After 4 At-Sea Interceptions

SAN JUAN — The U.S. Coast Guard returned 74 Dominican migrants to law enforcement authorities in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Tuesday night following the at-sea interdictions of four migrant vessels off Puerto Rico.

The interdictions were a result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

“While smugglers will continue to sell false promises and mislead migrants into unsafe and illegal attempts to cross maritime borders, the Coast Guard and our partners will continue to diligently patrol the Florida Straits and Caribbean Sea to stop these voyages before they end in tragedy and ensure the security of the United States,” said Captain James Passarelli, Chief of Staff of Coast Guard District Seven.

“When these voyages are discovered by the Coast Guard or by our partners, these migrants are rescued from their unseaworthy vessels, cared for humanely by our crews, and promptly repatriated to their country of origin or departure.”

Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents detected the first migrant vessel early Sunday morning, approximately eight nautical miles west of Punta Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute that responded along with a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit. The crew of the police marine unit interdicted the makeshift boat that was carrying nine people onboard, seven men and two women, who claimed Dominican nationality. The Resolute arrived on scene shortly thereafter, safely embarked the migrants and destroyed the migrant vessel as a hazard to navigation. The migrants were subsequently transferred from the Resolute to the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley.

The cutter Donald Horsley interdicted a second migrant vessel Sunday night, after the crew of a patrolling Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected the 25-foot makeshift boat, approximately 12 nautical miles off Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The crew of the cutter Donald Horsley safely embarked 16 Dominican men from the migrant boat and destroyed the vessel as a hazard to navigation.

The crew of a patrolling MH-65 Dolphin helicopter detected a third migrant vessel Monday afternoon, approximately three nautical miles off the northern coast of Camuy, Puerto Rico. Responding Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine units interdicted the 28-foot makeshift boat that was carrying 18 Dominican men onboard. The Donald Horsley arrived on scene shortly thereafter and safely embarked the migrants, while Puerto Rico Police crews took custody of the migrant boat.

During a routine patrol of the Mona Passage Monday night, the crew of a Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine DHC-8 maritime patrol aircraft detected a 30-foot makeshift boat, approximately 35 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla. The cutter Donald Horsley and a CBP marine unit arrived on scene and interdicted the migrant vessel with 31 people onboard, 27 men and four women, who claimed Dominican nationality. The crew of the Donald Horsley safely embarked the migrants, while the crew of the Customs and Border Protection marine unit took custody of the migrant vessel.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention

The Resolute is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West Florida, while the cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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