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Coast Guard Takes 66 Dominicans Back After Navy Interrupts 2 Illegal Voyages

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard repatriated 66 Dominican migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel Sunday near Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of two illegal voyages in Mona Passage waters between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The aircrew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Enforcement Aircraft detected the first illegal voyage Friday morning.  Following the sighting, the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser interdicted a 30-foot grossly overloaded makeshift boat and safely embarked the migrants.

The aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Marine Enforcement Aircraft detected the second illegal voyage Saturday morning. Following the sighting, the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser crew interdicted a 25-foot grossly overloaded makeshift boat and safely embarked the migrants.

During both interdictions, the CBP aircrews vectored-in the cutter Winslow Griesser to the migrant vessels’ position.

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

“I’m truly impressed with the professionalism and dedication displayed by the crew of Winslow Griesser, our CBP partners and Sector San Juan personnel who worked these cases,” said Lt. Benjamin Williamsz, Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser’s commanding officer. “These illegal migrant ventures are incredibly dangerous. Often people we find at sea are on overloaded, un-seaworthy vessels suffering from exposure, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and other acute medical issues. For those considering embarking on such a treacherous voyage – I implore you to find a safe and legal alternative.”

“To anyone considering taking part in one of these voyages we urge them to not take to the sea, you are putting your life and the life of others at risk,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Coast Guard Sector San Juan chief of response. “If caught, you are also risking prosecution for migrating illegally to the United States.  Migrants who are interdicted at sea and not prosecuted, will be returned to the country they departed from.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive 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.

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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