The Coast Guard said a US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations crew spotted the “grossly overloaded vessel on Tuesday and Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant and Station Islamorada crews diverted to the vessel.”
“Once on scene, the crews provided the people with life jackets due to safety concerns associated with the vessel being grossly overloaded. “Attempting to migrate illegally by sea to the United States from Haiti is incredibly dangerous,” said Lieutenant Paul Puddington, a Coast Guard District Seven enforcement officer.
“The Coast Guard and our partners will continue to patrol, detect, intercept and deter unsafe voyages.”
On Friday, the US Coast Guard also returned eight Dominican Republic nationals, 15 Haitians, and 12 Uzbek nationals to the Dominican Republic following the interdiction of two illegal voyages in the Mona Passage near Puerto Rico.
The US Coast Guard said four other Dominican Republic nationals apprehended during these interdictions face US federal criminal prosecution in Puerto Rico for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecutions, in this case, the US Coast Guard said.
“We remain gravely concerned for the safety of people embarking illegal voyages across the Mona Passage and ask they not take to the sea,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, acting commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan.
“The dangers are quite evident; each of these voyages is a mass rescue case waiting to happen,” he added. “Your life will be in danger as the voyages most often take place aboard grossly overloaded and unseaworthy makeshift vessels that are highly unstable, continuously are taking on water, and have little or no adequate lifesaving equipment.”
The US Coast Guard said the interdictions resulted from ongoing local and federal multi-agency efforts in support of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
Since October 1, 2021, the US Coast Guard said its crews had interdicted 5,003 Haitian migrants, compared to 1,527 in the Fiscal Year 2021, 418 in the Fiscal Year 2020, 932 in the Fiscal Year 2019, 609 in the Fiscal Year 2018, and 419 Haitian in the Fiscal Year 2017.