FAJARDO, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and Puerto Rico Police FURA Units, seized 4,616 pounds (2,094 kilograms) of cocaine found inside a vessel that landed in the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico. The estimated street value of the seized cocaine is approximately $48.1 million.
On May 28, during a routine patrol, the crew of an AMO aircraft located a vessel with three occupants without navigation lights navigating south near the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico.
The AMO crew kept surveillance of the vessel contacting an AMO Coastal Interceptor unit to reach a suspect Eduardoño-type vessel with two outboard engines.
The AMO Coastal unit was able to reach the suspect vessel near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, turning on the blue law enforcement lights, and spotlight. The operators of the vessel failed to heave and during the pursuit they struck a reef and beached the vessel. The three occupants fled into a wooded area in Punta Guayanes, Yabucoa.
“Smuggling organizations are attempting to disguise their illegal activities as those of normal leisure boaters,” Augusto Reyes, Director of the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. “AMO agents are highly skilled, able to see through their tactics, and committed to use all our capabilities to interdict them and stop their illegal smuggling ventures.”
Puerto Rico Police and FURA officers searched the area. Due to the dense vegetation and rocky terrain, agents and officers were unable to locate the individuals. Inside the vessel 58 bales of cocaine were found.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) took custody of the narcotics for investigation.
On May 4, CBP seized cocaine worth $3.1 million in two separate incidents in Culebra and Vieques.
AMO safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. 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.