U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. HSI San Juan Warns the Public About the Dangers of Human Smuggling

HSI San Juan Warns the Public About the Dangers of Human Smuggling

Release Date: February 1, 2024

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As part of its mission to identify, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks of human trafficking, HSI San Juan is warning the public about the dangers of illegal human smuggling activities at sea. Its aim is to explain how this illegal practice presents a risk to public safety, endangers human lives, and generates violence, abuse and extortion.

Human trafficking is the act of deliberately evading immigration laws and illegally importing people into a country. Transporting people as cargo brings transnational criminal organizations billions of dollars.

"The message has to be clear: Risking your life on a sea venture in an unsafe vessel cannot be an option. Smugglers are not concerned about people's well-being; for them it is just a business," said HSI San Juan Special Agent in Charge Rebecca C. Gonzalez-Ramos. "We do not want to lose more lives to this practice."

On the afternoon of Jan. 31, approximately 30 Dominican nationals were rescued after arriving in a "yola," a man-made vessel, to the northern coast of Puerto Rico (Camuy and Quebradillas), including a minor and a pregnant woman. The boat capsized on a rocky shore of Puerto Herminia Beach, causing two deaths. As of Feb. 1, several rescuers were still searching for more bodies. This scenario is all too common in this type of illicit maritime ventures, mainly because these vessels are not safe to travel on the high seas and are not prepared to face the dangers of sailing.

This type of activity carries other risks — including attacks, rape, physical abuse, kidnappings and robberies. Additionally, smuggled people may be trafficked after their arrival in the United States, and their families may be extorted.

"For HSI, it is a priority to identify and prosecute the people involved in organizing these trips; who profit from the vulnerability of individuals who do not know what they are doing. We cannot do it alone. We ask family members not to sponsor travel plans of illegal maritime trips that endanger the lives of their loved ones,” said Gonzalez-Ramos.

For more information about HSI's mission to combat human smuggling, visit Human Smuggling | HSI.

To report suspicious activity, contact the HSI Communications Center at 787-729-6969, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last Updated: 04/22/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content