A wooden “yola” vessel seized and one US citizen from Puerto Rico arrested
AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine agents, and Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym) officers seized 149 pounds (67.6 kilos) of cocaine after intercepting a wooden vessel, with one man on board, near the island of Desecheo in the west coast.
The seized cocaine shipment was estimated to have a street value of approximately $1.9 million dollars.
Bartolome Barber-Bracero, 43, was arrested and charged in a criminal complaint authorized by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sylvia Carreño Coll with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Assistant United States Attorney Teresa Zapata-Valladares is in charge of the prosecution of the case.
“Our collective effort and resolve is key to secure the Caribbean borders from attempts to smuggle narcotics into the region,” stated Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations at the CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.
A CBP UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter conducting a patrol along the Mona Passage detected a vessel, navigating east, approximately 10 nautical miles west of Desecheo Island.
The vessel was described as a “yola” type, single engine, 20 feet in length, single outboard engine with one person on board and the name "FOX" labeled on each side.
The CBP helicopter requested the assistance of a Puerto Rico Police Department FURA marine unit nearby to conduct a boarding.
The vessel was escorted to the Mayaguez pier for inspection by CBP agents and PRPD officers, who discovered a total of 60 bricks hidden within three vessel fenders, which later testing positive to cocaine.
Mr. Barber-Bracero and the contraband were transferred to the custody of US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI ) Special Agents 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.