The crew of Coast Guard cutter Joseph Napier rescued 19 Haitians recently, who were left abandoned by smugglers on the uninhabited natural reserve of Monito Island, Puerto Rico.
The Joseph Napier is a Coast Guard 154' fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The rescue was part of ongoing multiagency efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan received a communication from the cutter Joseph Napier reporting 19 migrants stranded on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island located just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Heavy sea-state conditions delayed rescue efforts until Sunday when conditions improved and allowed the cutter’s over-the-horizon boat to approach Monito Island. Once the cutter small boat was in position, each person on the cliff dawned a lifejacket and took their turn jumping into the water from where they were safely recovered by the small boat crew.
“The small boat crew’s thorough assessment of the situation and their actions led to the safe rescue of all 19 survivors.” said Lt. Devonte Weems, the Joseph Napier's commanding officer. “People are risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones at sea without realizing how dangerous these voyages can be.”
Once onboard cutter, the group was provided food, water, and basic medical care. The survivors, 10 men and nine women, were transferred to Ramey Sector U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Oct. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2022, the Coast Guard carried out 14 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 419 non-U.S. citizens including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and one of unknown nationality.