SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents detected and intercepted a vessel Oct.12, with 123 pounds (56 kilos) of cocaine. Two men were arrested. The estimated wholesale value of the narcotics is $1.5 million.
Near midnight, a CBP DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft crew detected a small 23-foot wooden “yola” vessel with one outboard engine and two persons onboard, approximately northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, heading eastbound.
“Air and Marine Operations is always vigilant of the Caribbean waters to detect and intercept smuggling attempts such as this one,” said Johnny Morales, Director, Air Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.
The CBP AMO aircrew contacted Coast Guard Sector San Juan and AMO marine units to deploy, maintained surveillance of the vessel. ,
Shortly past midnight, AMO MIAs reached the vessel and ordered the men on board to stop. The vessel failed to heave and the men onboard started to throw packages into the water as the agents pursued.
Once the agents stopped the vessel, a USCG small boat crew and MIAs recovered a few packages from the water; that appeared to be contraband. MIAs apprehended the two men on board, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.
The USCG destroyed the “yola” on scene. Both detainees were transferred to a USCG cutter for transport to the Mayaguez port, where they were transferred, along with the contraband, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents for prosecution and investigation.
AMO is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities.
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.