AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard and other law enforcement partners rescued 68 Haitian migrants Thursday after smugglers dropped them off near the shores of Mona Island. Five other Haitian migrants perished during the smuggling event.
“Transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of individuals they smuggle for their own financial gain with no regard for human life,” indicated Scott Garrett, Acting Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Sector of the US Border Patrol. “Smuggling organizations are abandoning migrants in remote and dangerous areas, leading to a rise in the number of rescues but also tragically a rise in the number of deaths.”
Authorities recovered five bodies from the water and reported that there were 68 survivors (41 males, 25 females, and two minors) who came safely ashore.
The multi-agency effort included the U.S. Border Patrol, Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Puerto Rico Police Department, Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources and other Police Department municipalities.
The Coast Guard Cutters Joseph Tezanos and Joseph Napier transported the group to the Mayaguez Port of Entry where Border Patrol Agents assumed custody of the migrants. Border Patrol along with Operation Stonegarden partners transported the group to Ramey Sector in Aguadilla.
Ramey Sector’s Border Patrol station will be processing the group of migrants under US immigration law.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.