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CBP intercepts vessel attempting to smuggle 328 pounds of cocaine; 2 men arrested

Release Date: 
November 18, 2016

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) seized  328 pounds (149 kilos) of cocaine Tuesday after intercepting a “yola” type vessel near Desecheo island and arresting 2 US Citizens onboard.   The estimated value of the cocaine is $4.2 million.

Compartments filled with cocaine bricks inside a "yola" type wooden vessel.
Compartments filled with cocaine bricks
inside a "yola" type wooden vessel.

“Air and Marine Agents engage in complex coordination to detect and stop vessels that attempt to smuggle narcotics though our coastal areas,” stated Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations at the CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.

A CBP DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft crew detected a small 22-foot wooden “yola” vessel with one outboard engine and two persons onboard, approximately 7 nautical miles west of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico, heading eastbound.

Two CBP Interceptors from the Mayaguez Marine Unit were deployed, reaching the vessel.  The Marine Interceptor Agents observed how the 2 men on board threw packages overboard from a cooler.  The agents intercepted the vessel and arrested the 2 men onboard. 

AMO assets searched the area and recovered 2 bricks from the water. Inside the vessel two compartments were found with bricks. The contraband tested positive to cocaine and weighted approximately 149 kilos. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents assumed custody of the 2 men and the contraband 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.

The Caribbean Air and Marine Branch is the only federal law enforcement organization in the Caribbean Basin with integrated air and marine interdiction capabilities. It is charged with detection and interdiction of airborne and maritime smuggling and uses organic radar facilities to detect and intercept air smuggling attempts, and airborne radar tracking aircraft to detect maritime smugglers.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021