SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Twenty-seven Haitians were rescued, and three suspected smugglers were detained, after the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted an illegal voyage in Mona Passage between June 6 and June 8, according to a news release.
On June 6, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) marine enforcement aircraft detected illegal travel headed to Monito Island, per officials. That night, Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier intercepted the "makeshift boat" before it could flee and detained the accused smugglers, but not before the boat had offloaded a group of 27 Haitians onto the island, as stated by the news release.
On June 7, cutter Joseph Doyle arrived at the island and assessed the situation as dire.
"Once the cutter Joseph Doyle and its small boat were on scene, the stranded Haitians made their way down the rocky slopes and nine of them jumped into the water from where they were rescued," wrote officials in the release. "Assessing the risk of the rescue, Doyle delayed further approaches to the shore until safer conditions arrived the following day."
U.S Coast Guard rescues stranded Haitians in Puerto Rico
On June 8, Doyle's crew recovered the remaining 18 Haitians, and they were given food, water and medical attention, per the release.
“I am enormously proud of the skill and professionalism cutter Joseph Doyle’s crew displayed through this challenging rescue,” said Lt. Cmdr. Charles Wilson, Cutter Joseph Doyle commanding officer, in a statement. “This is yet another example of the dangers presented to those who embark on illegal voyages, we are extremely thankful that we were able to resolve this safely and without injuries.”
All 30 individuals were transferred to U.S Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, PR.