US Coast Guard Offloads $13.3 Mln Drug Haul
The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded $13.3 million worth of suspected heroin and cocaine and transferred custody of two suspected smugglers to authorities in San Juan Tuesday, following a recent interdiction in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico.
The crew of a patrolling Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) maritime patrol aircraft initially detected a 30-foot go-fast vessel Saturday afternoon transiting with two people onboard and visible packages on deck south of Patillas, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon to intercept the suspect vessel while CAMB and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action positioned marine units that were also ready to respond. The 154-foot Fast Response Cutter Richard Dixon arrived on scene and interdicted the go-fast, detained the suspected smugglers and seized multiple bales of contraband. In all, 491.5 kilograms of cocaine and 9.2 kilograms of suspected heroin was seized.
The crew of the Richard Dixon later rendezvoused with and transferred the contraband and detainees to another Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez for transport to Coast Guard Sector San Juan where Drug Enforcement Administration Financial Investigative Team Special Agents in charge of the investigation took custody of the case.
The two apprehended men, a U.S. Citizen from Puerto Rico and a Dominican Republic national, are now in the custody of federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico, where they are facing potential prosecution.
“This successful interdiction resulted in the detention of two smugglers and kept a major drug shipment off the streets,” said Capt. Eric P. King, Sector San Juan commander.
“Inter-agency relentless mission of disrupting and dismantling transnational drug trafficking organizations will continue,” said Reinaldo R. López, DEA Caribbean Division Associate Special Agent in Charge. “DEA warns drug traffickers, especially across the Caribbean, that we are hunting them down in an all-year-round open season."