Fifty-six Caribbean nationals were repatriated to the Dominican Republic on Monday (June 12), following an interdiction of a makeshift vessel in Mona Passage waters off the west coast of Puerto Rico by the United States Coast Guards.
Fifty-five of the migrants are said nationals of the Dominican Republic nationals and one Haitian.
In a statement on Tuesday (June 13), the coast guard said that the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser and a Customs and Border Protection marine unit interdicted a 30-foot grossly overloaded makeshift vessel after it was initially detected by the aircrew of Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft, approximately 24 nautical miles west of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
A Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft also launched and provided air surveillance coverage in support of this case.
The migrants were later transferred to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off the coast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for repatriation Monday afternoon.
Lt. Cmdr. Edward Kunigonis, Sector San Juan chief of enforcement cautioned individuals against venturing on illegal voyages.
“To anyone thinking of taking part in a maritime irregular migration event we urge you to not take to the sea,” said Kunigonis. “Your life and the lives of everyone in the voyage will be at risk, since most often these voyages have no lifesaving equipment, they are unseaworthy and could easily capsize. If you attempt these voyages, you risk prosecution, will be returned to your country of origin, and may be disqualified from entering the United States legally in the future.”
The Coast Guard, along with Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast partners continues to maintain a continual presence with air, land, and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Windward Passage, the Mona Passage and the Caribbean Sea, collaborating to protect the safety of life at sea.
Since October 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has interdicted 46 migrant vessels in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico.
Interdicted during this period, were 1,473 non-U.S. citizens including 1,209 Dominicans, 242 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian, one Colombian, and one other of unknown nationality.