The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos repatriated 38 migrants to the Dominican Republic Friday, following the interdiction of an illegal voyage Thursday in Mona Passage waters near Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.
The interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts by Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies to combat illegal migrant smuggling.
The aircrew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft detected the illegal voyage Friday morning, approximately 15 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos responded to the sighting and interdicted the 35-foot vessel with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat. The cutter’s crew safely embarked the migrants from the makeshift vessel that was grossly overloaded vessel and taking on water. A Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit also responded and arrived on scene to assist.
Prior to embarking cutter Joseph Tezanos, the crew provided the migrants with lifejackets. Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, the migrants receive food, water and basic medical attention.
“The strong partnerships, collaboration and efficient coordination between the Coast Guard and our CBIG and Dominican Republic navy partners helped save the lives of all the migrants in this case and ensured their safe return to the Dominican Republic,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, Commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “To anyone considering taking part in an illegal voyage, don’t take to the sea! These voyages are extremely dangerous, the vessels are unseaworthy and most often grossly overloaded. Additionally, they have no lifesaving equipment and the conditions onboard are inhumane.”
Cutter Joseph Tezanos later rendezvoused with a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, where the crew transferred and completed the repatriation of the migrants to Dominican Republic Navy authorities.