SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as part of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities, seized over 2,600 pounds of cocaine, a go-fast vessel and detained two Dominican smugglers during an at-sea interdiction Sunday in the Caribbean Sea.
The drug shipment is estimated to have a wholesale value of more than $29 million.
A CBP marine surveillance aircraft detected two men aboard a suspicious 32-foot Cuddy-Cabin power boat Sunday afternoon, approximately 60 nautical miles south of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Matinicus interdicted the suspect vessel with the assistance of the CBP aircraft crew, who vectored the cutter to the vessel's position.
The crew of the Matinicus boarded the interdicted vessel and discovered 40 bales of suspected contraband in plain view in the vessel's forward compartment. A field test confirmed that the packages contained cocaine. The crew of the Matinicus embarked the two Dominican detainees and 40 bales of suspected contraband, and took the seized vessel in tow.
Monday night, the detainees along with the contraband shipment and seized vessel, were transferred to CBP field operations officers in Ponce, Puerto Rico, who in turn, transferred custody of the seizure to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.
The interdiction was a result of a multi-agency law enforcement effort in support of Operation Caribbean Guard.
Operation Caribbean Guard is a Department of Homeland Security multi-agency law enforcement operation to support ongoing efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands being executed under the San Juan Regional Coordinating Mechanism (SJ ReCoM)/Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
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.