• The San Juan Daily Star

US Coast Guard returns 62 Dominicans, 13 Haitians to DR

By The Star Staff

The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 62 Dominicans and 13 Haitians between last Thursday and Tuesday to the Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of two illegal trips near the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing efforts by multiple federal and local agencies in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

“The people on these trips are very fortunate that our crews arrived in time to avoid what could have been a very tragic outcome,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, response manager for the San Juan Sector, in a written statement.

“Conditions on board these two vessels were extremely unsafe; they were overloaded and had no life-saving equipment, which could have caused them to capsize and possibly have claimed the lives of everyone on board,” he said. “For anyone thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage, don’t go to sea! You will put your life and the lives of others at risk.”

During a routine patrol on Nov. 28, the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection maritime control aircraft detected the first illegal trip in the Caribbean Sea near Isla Saona, Dominican Republic. Following the sighting, Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless intercepted a 20-foot makeshift boat and safely embarked 15 people. Two claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, while the other 13, eight men, four women and one minor, claimed to be Haitian citizens.

Cutter Dauntless repatriated 14 people from this group on Thursday, while a citizen of the Dominican Republic remains in Puerto Rico facing federal prosecution on charges of attempted illegal re-entry into the United States.

During a routine patrol Saturday, a Customs and Border Protection maritime control aircraft detected a second illegal voyage in Atlantic Ocean waters north of Puerto Rico. Soon after, Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle intercepted the overloaded makeshift boat and safely embarked 62 people, who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, including 49 men, 12 women and one minor. People in this group were repatriated to the Dominican Republic on Monday and Tuesday.

Once aboard a Coast Guard ship, those intercepted receive food, water, shelter and basic medical care. During the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any potential COVID-19 cases.

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