FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.—On July 9, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM), Fort Lauderdale Marine Unit responded to a good Samaritan report of a capsized vessel that he believed contained narcotics. The good Samaritan had been diving near the capsized vessel and recovered a package containing numerous kilo-sized packages of cocaine.
The OAM Fort Lauderdale Marine Unit conducted a search of the last known position, and at approximately 4:30 p.m. located the vessel. Two units from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Fort Lauderdale responded to assist with righting of the vessel and recovery of the narcotics.
A Coast Guard unit took the vessel in tow and righted it while a second Coast Guard unit assisted with dewatering pumps. Marine interdiction agents from the marine unit boarded the vessel while underway and recovered 41 bales, each of which contained 25 bricks, with an approximate weight of 3,600 pounds and estimated value of $117,000,000.
The vessel was towed to the Coast Guard station in Fort Lauderdale where the narcotics field tested for cocaine and was seized by the Fort Lauderdale Marine Unit. The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), and its participating federal, state and local law enforcement partners.
CBP's Office of Air and Marine is the world's largest civilian aviation and maritime law enforcement organization. Its mission is to protect the American people and the nation's critical infrastructure through the coordinated use of air and marine assets to detect, interdict and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs, and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States.
To report suspicious activity to the CBP Office of Air and Marine, call 1-800-BE ALERT (1-800-232-5378).
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.