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Coast Guard Cutter Nabs 11 Migrants In Mona Passage Waters Near Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard returned 71 migrants, 56 Haitians and 15 Dominicans, between Sunday and Wednesday to the Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of five illegal voyages in Mona Passage waters in the Caribbean.

Six other men, Dominican Republic nationals apprehended during these interdictions, are facing federal criminal prosecution in Puerto Rico on migrant smuggling charges. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution in this case.

  • Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon interdicted a 25-foot makeshift boat Oct. 16, 2021, approximately 37 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicted a 20-foot makeshift boat Monday, approximately 29 nautical miles northeast of the Dominican Republic.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos interdicted a 20-foot makeshift boat Tuesday, approximately three nautical miles west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a second 20-foot makeshift boat Tuesday, approximately three nautical miles off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez interdicted a 20-foot makeshift boat Wednesday just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing local and federal multi-agency efforts in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group CBIG.

“Our Coast Guard men and women remain vigilant working alongside our Caribbean Border Interagency Group partner agencies to stop illegal migrant voyages in the Mona Passage,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. These voyages dangerous, and we urge anyone considering taking part in one that they not take to the sea, they will be putting their life at risk aboard unseaworthy and grossly overloaded vessels, and if caught, they may face prosecution for migrating illegally to the United States.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19.

Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents received custody of the six suspected smugglers Wednesday in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Family members in the United States inquiring about possible family members interdicted at sea, please contact your local U.S. representative. Relatives located outside the United States please contact your local U.S. Embassy.

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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