San Juan, Puerto Rico - Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities, working in support of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), arrested six Dominican smugglers, seizing a boat and a drug shipment of approximately 322 pounds of cocaine and 19 pounds of heroin during a maritime interdiction Thursday evening off the northern coast of Dorado, Puerto Rico. The estimated street value is more than $3.2 million.
Near midnight Thursday evening, a Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) assigned to CBP's Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP Border Patrol agents and Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agents, detected a suspicious 21' twin-engine "yola" type vessel traveling without navigational lights east about 17 nautical miles north of Dorado, Puerto Rico.
CBP agents on board the aircraft observed the individuals onboard the suspect vessel throw overboard suspicious objects after they noticed being detected by law enforcement authorities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) marine patrol aircraft contacted the U.S. Coast Guard Station San Juan 33-foot response boat, a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit, patrolling with a U.S. Border Patrol agent onboard, and a CBP UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to interdict the suspect vessel.
The crew of the Coast Guard response boat interdicted the suspect vessel and detained the six men onboard, approximately four nautical miles from the coast of Dorado. Meanwhile, the crew of the Puerto Rico Police marine unit was able to recover six bales from the water, thrown overboard from the suspect vessel.
A further inspection of the recovered bales and a field test conducted by law enforcement authorities on the contents of the shipment revealed 132 bricks of cocaine and eight packages of heroin.
The crew Coast Guard cutter Cushing transferred custody of the six men Thursday night to run a biometrics background check and verify if any of the suspected smugglers had a previous criminal or illegal immigration history with the U.S. government.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents took custody of the narcotics and the six individuals for further investigation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.