SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The US Coast Guard repatriated 46 Dominican migrants on Wednesday and 18 others on Sunday to the Dominican Republic, following two at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage.
“Grossly overloaded boats taking on water with no lifejackets or safety equipment onboard, boat operators with little experience and perilous seas present a serious threat to the lives of the migrants looking to cross the Mona Passage,” said Capt. Eric P. King, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “The quick response and coordination between the Coast Guard units involved, our Caribbean Border Interagency Group partners and the Dominican Republic Navy prevented a potential tragedy in these two cases and allowed for a quick repatriation of all 64 migrants.”
The latest interdiction took place at approximately 12:35 am on Tuesday after the crew of a patrolling Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft sighted a grossly overloaded migrant boat, approximately 24 nautical miles northeast of Miches, Dominican Republic.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan proceeded to divert the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser, which arrived on scene and interdicted the migrant vessel. Following the interdiction, the crew of the Winslow Griesser identified the migrant boat was taking on water and provided lifejackets to the migrants before embarking all 37 men and nine women of Dominican nationality.
During a separate case, the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier detected and interdicted a second migrant vessel on Friday night, transiting with 18 people onboard, approximately eight nautical miles southwest of Rincón, Puerto Rico. The Joseph Napier crew provided lifejackets to the migrants and embarked the 17 men and a woman of Dominican nationality onboard the cutter.
The Winslow Griesser completed the repatriation of the 46 migrants on Wednesday afternoon, following an at-sea transfer of the migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat in waters south of La Romana, Dominican Republic. The 18 other migrants were also repatriated and transferred by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to the Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat Capotillo on Sunday morning in waters south of La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.