Ninety-six of 102 Caribbean nationals were returned to the Dominica Republic on Tuesday (May 17) by the US Coast Guards following three separate interdictions in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico.
In a statement on Wednesday (May 17), the Coast Guard said that the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft patrolling the Mona Passage Monday, detected three grossly overloaded makeshift migrant vessels transiting from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.
The vessels were subsequently intercepted after the Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser and the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to intercept the suspect vessels.
The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser interdicted one makeshift vessel and embarked 50 persons, including 41 men, eight women, and a male minor, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.
The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos interdicted a second vessel with 19 people onboard, 15 men and four women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.
Cutter Joseph Tezanos also interdicted the third migrant vessel with 33 people onboard, 28 men and three women, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals, and two Haitian men. The cutter’s crew safely embarked all the migrants from these two voyages.
The Coast Guard said that the minor remains aboard the cutter pending transfer coordination with Children and Adolescents National Council (CONANI) representatives in the Dominican Republic, as well as five other migrants, who are pending further immigration processing.
Since October 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 31 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico.
Interdicted during this period, are 992 non-U.S. citizens including 758 Dominicans, 211 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian and one other unknown nationality.