U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Dominican Republic Navy air and surface units interdicted 52 migrants aboard a makeshift vessel during an illegal voyage Wednesday in the Mona Passage.
The group of migrants included 51 Dominican Republic and one Cuban nationals, 39 men and 13 women, who were safely returned to the Dominican Republic. The interdiction was the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
“The close collaboration and effective communication between the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and Dominican Republic Navy responding assets led to the interdiction and safe recovery of all 52 migrants,” said Cmdr. Beau Power, Sector San Juan chief of response. “People should not take to the sea as part of an illegal migrant voyage, they are extremely dangerous. Often, like in this case, they take place aboard grossly overloaded and unseaworthy makeshift boats that could easily capsize and have little or no lifesaving equipment onboard.”
The interdiction took place Wednesday morning, after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations DHC-8 marine patrol aircraft crew sighted a migrant vessel, approximately 15 nautical miles northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the cutter Donald Horsley to carry out the interdiction and alerted Dominican Republic Navy authorities, whom also diverted the Dominican Republic Navy coastal patrol boat Bellatrix (CG-106) to the scene.
The Bellatrix arrived on scene and stopped the migrant vessel. Shortly thereafter, the Donald Horsley arrived on scene and assisted with the transfer and safe removal of the migrants to the Bellatrix for their return to the Dominican Republic.
The cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.