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Coast Guard Takes 91 Illegal Migrants Back To The Dominican Republic Today

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard Cutter Reliance crew repatriated 91 migrants to the Dominican Republic today from three at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

These interdictions are the result of ongoing Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency group partner efforts to deter and stop illegal voyages in the Mona Passage. 

In the first interdiction, the Coast Guard Richard Etheridge located and interdicted an illegal voyage at 3:26 a.m. Thursday, comprised of a 17-foot makeshift vessel with 32 migrants onboard, 30 men and two women, in waters just off Rincon, Puerto Rico.

In the second interdiction, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a 30-foot makeshift boat at 7 a.m. Thursday just off Aguadilla, Puerto Rico that was carrying 50 migrants onboard; 47 men and three women.

In the third interdiction, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a 15-foot makeshift boat at 9:20 a.m. Thursday just off Rincon, Puerto Rico that was carrying 12 migrants onboard, 11 men and a woman.

“These interdictions highlight the professionalism, commitment and unwavering resolve of the Coast Guard and our Caribbean Border Interagency Group partners in safeguarding the maritime border of Puerto Rico,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response.   “We continue to implore anyone thinking about taking part in an illegal voyage that they not take to the sea! It is just not worth it, not only would you be putting your life at risk, but the life of everyone else if the voyage.  You are also risking federal prosecution for attempting to enter illegally into the United States.”

In the last eight days, Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group partner agencies have interdicted 10 illegal voyages with 211 migrants, who were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard grossly overloaded makeshift boats. Since Oct. 1, 2021, the Coast Guard and CBIG federal and state partner agencies have interdicted and or apprehended over 2,100 migrants who were traveling illegally to Puerto Rico.

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

The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Puerto Rico, while the Coast Guard Cutter Reliance is a Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Pensacola, Fla.

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 (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the maritime borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling threats.  The Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigations are also integral partners of the CBIG. 

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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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