US Coast Guard repatriates Dominican, Haitian migrants

Monday, October 22, 2018

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC) — The United States Coast Guard says the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Heriberto Hernandez have repatriated 12 Dominicans and returned two Haitians to Dominican authorities following the interdiction of a migrant vessel in the Caribbean Seas off Mona Island, Puerto Rico, just over a week ago.

The US Coast Guard said the interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

Two of the interdicted male migrants are Dominican Republic nationals who are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges in Puerto Rico for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States, the Coast Guard said.

“The outstanding work by the Coast Guard and our interagency partners focused on humanitarian efforts and preventing loss of life at sea,” said Lt Cmdr Rafael Battle, US Coast Guard Heriberto Hernandez commanding officer.

“The Mona Passage is a volatile waterway with heavy seas,” he added. “Transiting on dangerously overloaded and unseaworthy vessels poses large risk to anyone making the journey from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.

“Fortunately, we discovered and saved 16 people before they encountered other potential dangers,” Battle continued.

The Coast Guard said during a routine late-night patrol of the Mona Passage on October 11, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft detected a “grossly overloaded 25-foot migrant boat transiting without navigational lights” about 10 nautical miles north of Mona Island.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Heriberto Hernandez to interdict the vessel, the Coast Guard said, adding that the crew of the Heriberto Hernandez arrived on scene, stopped the boat and safely embarked all 16 migrants; 14 Dominican Republic nationals — 10 men and four women — and two Haitian men.

The US Coast Guard said Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Puerto Rico received custody of the two migrants facing prosecution, while the Heriberto Hernandez later met with a Dominican Republic navy vessel and transferred custody of the remaining migrants to Dominican Republic authorities.


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