Fifteen Cuban migrants were rescued and one died after the group tried to swim to two tiny islands just west of Puerto Rico, U.S. authorities said Friday.
The migrants jumped into the water on Thursday as federal agents and Dominican Navy officers approached a makeshift boat that had departed from the Dominican Republic, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Three of the migrants were hospitalized, authorities said.
Agents arrested two men from the Dominican Republic suspected of smuggling the group to Mona and Monito islands, officials said. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico is seeking extradition of the two suspects being held by Dominican officials, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The rescue comes just weeks after 41 Dominican migrants died when their boat capsized in the dangerous Mona Passage hours after departing from the Dominican Republic en route to the U.S. Caribbean territory.
Cubans are generally allowed to apply for legal residence if they reach U.S. soil under the country's wet foot/dry foot policy.