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Coast Guard Takes 18 Dominican Migrants Back Home After Capture In Mona Passage

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard Joseph Tezanos crew repatriated 18 migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Thursday, following the interdiction of migrant voyage in Mona Passage waters between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The migrant group consists of 17 men and a woman, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.

The interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts by Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies to combat illegal migrant smuggling.

The aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft detected the illegal voyage Tuesday afternoon; a grossly overloaded 25-foot makeshift vessel in waters northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos responded and, with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat, stopped the migrant vessel. The Joseph Tezanos crew embarked the migrants due to safety of life at sea concerns and destroyed the makeshift vessel as a hazard to navigation.

Prior to embarking, the Joseph Tezanos crew provided the migrants with lifejackets.  Once aboard the cutter, the migrants received food, water and basic medical attention.

“These 18 migrants are among the hundreds of others who risk their lives yearly to enter Puerto Rico illegally on makeshift grossly overloaded vessels,” said Lt. Anthony Orr, Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos commanding officer. “I could not be prouder of my crew for working efficiently and tirelessly to care for these migrants and ensure their safe repatriation.  The success of this operation was due to the impeccable teamwork that we had with CBP, Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, and Sector San Juan’s Command Center and Enforcement Division.”

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

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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