US customs officials warn C’bean migrants about travel at sea

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have issued a strong warning to Caribbean migrants who take to the sea in an effort to reach the US, saying that the venture is treacherous and may result in death.

The warning came as 13 undocumented immigrants from Cuba on Tuesday landed on Mona Island, off Puerto Rico.

“Crossing the Mona Passage is a treacherous voyage filled with many dangers that pose a huge risk to migrants,” said Ramiro Cerrillo, Ramey Sector Chief Patrol Agent.

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“We issue a concerned warning on the danger of traversing the Mona Passage, with the hope of avoiding an unfortunate event during this holiday season,” he added.

The US Coast Guard  on Tuesday  notified the Border Patrol Ramey Sector Communications Center about the landing of 13 undocumented migrants on Mona Island. The group consisted of 12 men and one woman all claiming to be Cuban nationals.

CBP said 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.”

It said a typical “yola”is an unsafe vessel, generally underpowered with a single outboard motor, and overloaded with a large number of passengers. As an example, a 40 foot “yola” can accommodate over 100 persons, CBP said.

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), while smuggling by sea accounts only for a small portion of overall migrant smuggling around the world, the particular dangers of irregular travel at sea make it a priority for response; due to the reported fact that more deaths occur by sea.


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