FORT PIERCE, FLA.—On November 22, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) Fort Pierce Marine Unit (FPMU) responded to a notification of a capsized vessel in the surf, resulting in the interdiction of a failed drug smuggling venture.
“This is another great example of cooperative federal, state and local law enforcement work being done to protect the maritime borders of the United States,” said Hunter Davis, Director Marine Operations, Jacksonville Air and Marine Branch.
The FPMU notified local partners, and along with the Martin County Sheriff’s office, responded to 25 North Beach Road in Jupiter Island, Fla.
Eyewitness accounts stated that there were at least four occupants of the vessel. The vessel, a 22’ Sundance Skiff, was believed to have crossed from the Bahamas early Friday morning. Agents apprehended one Bahamian national and one Jamaican national. Two additional suspects absconded.
Multiple bales of marijuana were discovered in and around the vessel totaling 719 pounds, worth approximately $1 million. There were also eight (7 gallon) fuel containers found nearby.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard responded and assisted with the search. The suspects and marijuana were turned over to the Martin County Sheriff’s Department along with the seized vessel. FPMU agents along with local partners are conducting interviews and following up on information recovered during the search.
The CBP Office of Air and Marine is the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization with approximately 1,200 federal agents, operating from 30 air and marine locations, with 260 aircraft and 286 maritime vessels.
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.