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CBP apprehends 32 Haitians that landed in Monito

Release Date: 
October 16, 2014

Smugglers disdain puts 32 lives in a dangerous island even with Hurricane Gonzalo lurking

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico –US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol Agents apprehended Wednesday morning 32 undocumented Haitian migrants that landed Monday afternoon  in Monito Island. 

Border Patrol Ramey Sector Communications Room received notification Monday afternoon from the U. S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector San Juan after one of their air assets observed approximately thirty-five subjects stranded on Monito Island. 

USCG removed a group of 32 undocumented Haitians, 25 males and 7 females, from the treacherous Monito Island to the adjacent Mona Island after a favorable weather forecast was issued. 

A combined Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) effort by CBP Office Air and Marine and USCG assets transported the group Wednesday morning to the Mayaguez port where Border Patrol Agents acquired custody for immigration processing. 

“Smugglers take advantage of the ignorance and vulnerability of migrants to leave them stranded in inhabited islands, even when there is a hurricane watch,” said Ramiro Cerrillo, Chief Patrol Agent for the CBP Ramey Border Patrol Sector.  “Even first responders place themselves in harm’s way as well while rescuing the migrants from these treacherous conditions.”

After processing Border Patrol Agents transferred custody to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement Removal Operations Special Agents for expedited removal of the migrants.  

The illegal maritime smuggling ventures arriving to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic are ordinarily transported in rustic, homemade wooden vessels commonly referred to as "yolas." A typical “yola” is an unsafe vessel, generally underpowered with a single outboard motor, and overloaded with a large number of passengers and without life vests. Every year CBP receives both confirmed and unconfirmed reports of aliens drowning while in transit to United States territory.

Eighty miles separate the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico. At the approximate mid-point lies the island of Mona, an uninhabited island that is a United States territory.  Monito Island is an uninhabited, inaccessible by sea, barren Island about 5 kilometers northwest of the much larger Mona Island.

Migrant smugglers in the Dominican Republic strategically navigate to and use Mona Island as a drop off point for migrants who must then be recovered from Mona and transported to Puerto Rico by CBP or USCG air or marine assets.

The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Rapid Action Forces (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands borders against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017