PONCE, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and the U.S. Coast Guard collaborated to intercept Saturday a go-fast vessel seizing 1,084 pounds (491.5kilos) of cocaine and 19 pounds (9 kilos) of heroin. The estimated value of the seized cocaine is $ 12.8 million and $540,000 for the heroin.
“AMO crews spend many hours patrolling the Caribbean region to discover smuggling ventures into US territory,” said Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations. “We remain committed to work with other law enforcement partners to detect and deter these intrusions.”
On Apr. 14, AMO DHC- 8 Marine Patrol Aircraft crew observed a suspect vessel described as 25 feet in length, center console, twin engines with two occupants about 110 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico. The crew observed the suspect vessel receive fuel from another vessel in the vicinity.
Near 9:00 a.m., the vessel made contact with a different vessel and transferred several packages that appeared to be contraband. The AMO crew started tracking the vessel that received the packages as it continued to make a course towards the south part of Puerto Rico, contacting the USCG and the Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) for interception.
The AMO aircraft maintained contact with the 30-foot suspect vessel coordinating with USCG cutter Richard Dixon that intercepted the vessel approximately 80 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico.
USCG recovered 22 bales of contraband and took custody of 2 men, a U.S. Citizen from Puerto Rico and a Dominican Republic national, who are now in the custody of federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico, where they are facing potential prosecution.
The crew of the Richard Dixon later rendezvoused with and transferred the contraband and detainees to the 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.
AMO is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation's interior.
CCSF is a U.S. Attorney’s Office initiative created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF if part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement and illegal narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is comprised of ICE-HIS, The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Puerto Rico Police Department’s Joint Forces of Rapid Action.
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