San Juan, (EFE) – Ten Haitians and two Dominicans were detained earlier this week by the US Coast Guard after being detained by the agency for trying to arrive illegally in Puerto Rico, it was reported this Thursday.
The arrest of the ten Haitians, seven men and three women, and the two Dominicans, who were identified as smugglers on the trip, took place in the Mona Channel, near Isla de Mona, an islet west of Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard said in a press release.
As the agency explained, it was last Sunday when, during a preventive surveillance by US Border Patrol (CBP) agents, a suspicious vessel was sighted five nautical miles (9 kilometers) west of Mona Island.
Given this, the officers notified the sighting to agents of the Coast Guard in San Juan, whose office then dispatched a boat, which reached the suspicious 25-foot (8-meter) vessel.
After their arrest, the group of immigrants was embarked by the agents, who gave them food, water, basic medical attention and shelter.
However, the group was later transferred to another Coast Guard vessel.
In addition to the detention of the immigrants, two other men of Dominican nationality who were traveling with the group were arrested for smuggling and handed over in Mayagüez (west) to CBP officers from the Ramey Base, in Aguadilla (northwest).
The ten Haitian detainees were later sent to the Dominican Republic between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week to then be repatriated by the Dominican authorities.
“For those who consider taking a risk on an illegal trip that crosses the Mona Passage, do not do so by sea,” warned the commander of the Coast Guard in San Juan, Captain Gregory H. Magee, in the statement.
“They will be repatriated and returned to their country of origin or they could face an accusation. These trips are dangerous and it is not worth risking their trip in them and less putting it in the hands of smugglers, who do not value their safety or well-being,” Magee emphasized.