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Coast Guard Takes 18 Illegal Dominican ‘Migrants’ From Puerto Rico Back To The Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard took 18 illegal migrants back to the Dominican Republic between Saturday and Tuesday, following the interdiction of an illegal migrant voyage off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

The interdiction is the result of ongoing multi-agency efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group CBIG.

 “Those who take part in an illegal migrant voyage to cross the Mona Passage risk losing their lives, and it’s truly saddening and unfortunate when we find minors taking part in these voyages,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “To the parents, friends and loved ones of anyone looking to take part in an illegal voyage, implore that they not take to the sea, the dangers are just to great.  These unseaworthy and often grossly-overloaded makeshift vessels could easily capsize or sink without notice giving the migrants a very slim to almost no chance of survival.”

While on a routine patrol of the Mona Passage early Friday morning, the crew of a Customs and Border Protection marine enforcement aircraft detected an illegal migrant voyage, just off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon (WPC-1113) and a Puerto Rico Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit responded to interdict the suspect vessel.  Shortly thereafter, the crew of the Puerto Rico Police stopped the 25-foot makeshift boat that was transporting 13 adult men, four women and a 17-year-old male minor.  The crew of cutter Richard Dixon safely embarked the migrants from the makeshift vessel.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.  Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crewmembers were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19.  There were no migrants reported to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.

Cutter Richard Dixon and the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez (WPC-1114) carried out the repatriation.

Cutters Richard Dixon and Heriberto Hernandez are 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Operation Caribbean Guard is a Department of Homeland Security multi-agency law enforcement operation to support ongoing efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands being executed under the San Juan Regional Coordinating Mechanism (SJ ReCoM)/Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

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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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