San Juan, Puerto Rico - U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agents stopped a vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico yesterday transporting 188 pounds of cocaine. Upon conducting a search of the vessel, five bales of contraband were discovered. The content of the bales tested positive for cocaine and the two individuals were arrested. The seized drugs and the two suspects were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Homeland Security Investigations for further processing and investigation.
A CBP Dash-8 surveillance aircraft during a routine patrol last night detected a suspicious vessel 26 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The vessel, a yola-type home-made wooden boat, with two persons onboard and a single-engine, was traveling heading east-southeast at about 10 knots without navigational lights.
The Caribbean Air and Marine Branch launched a marine interceptor vessel, the Midnight Express, to intercept the suspect boat while the aircraft remained overhead. The suspect vessel did not stop upon being intercepted and after deploying warning shots, CBP agents used disabling fire to stop the engine. The suspect vessel finally was stopped approximately four nautical miles northwest Rincon, Puerto Rico.
Customs and Border Protection's DHC-8 aircraft is a marine surveillance aircraft. Two of these aircraft are stationed at the CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch in Aguadilla and are used to patrol the coastal waters of Puerto Rico to detect the transit of illicit drugs and aliens toward the island and the U.S.
CBP's Midnight Express Marine Interceptor is the most powerful vessel used in law enforcement anywhere in the world. Several of these are deployed around Puerto Rico and are an integral part of CBP effort to stop maritime smuggling into Puerto Rico and the U.S.
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.