CBP, Operation Stonegarden partners seize 340 pounds of cocaine; one man arrested
AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations and Border Patrol Agents, along with the Isabela Municipal Police, seized 340 pounds(154 kilos) of cocaine found concealed in Montones beach in Isabela, late Thursday night. One man was arrested and prosecuted in connection with the smuggling event.
The estimated value of the contraband is $4.3 million.
“Our marine units consistently work with local law enforcement partners to detect and intercept criminal organizations that seek to introduce illegal narcotics,” stated Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations for CBP’s Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB).
The Isabela Municipal Police contacted the Ramey Sector Communications Center notifying of a marine smuggling event near the Villas del Mar Hau hotel in the northwestern coast of the island.
CBP AMO, Border Patrol Agents and officers from Puerto Rico Police FURA units, as well as police from Aguadilla and Barceloneta, arrived to assist on the scene where a 22 foot fiberglass vessel equipped with a single 60 horsepower outboard motor was found. Later a man was located attempting to flee the scene.
After a thorough nighttime search, 5 bales were found covered within the vegetation, containing a total of 133 individual packages of a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine.
The narcotics and the arrested man were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) -Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents for further investigation and prosecution.
“Coordination and communication with municipal police partners through Operation Stonegarden continues to produce results in the interdiction of smuggling operations in the area,” stated Ramiro Cerrillo, Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Border Patrol Sector.
The Operation Stonegarden Grant Program (OPSG) is designed to enhance cooperation and coordination from the U.S. Border Patrol with local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies in a joint mission to secure the border.
In March 2015, an Operation Stongarden led operation produced the seizure of 2,513 pounds (1,140 kilos) of cocaine worth an estimated $32 million.
OPSG funds were allocated based on risk-based prioritization using a CBP Border Patrol Sector-specific border risk methodology. Factors considered included, but were not limited to, threat, vulnerability, miles of border, and other border-specific “law enforcement intelligence,” as well as feasibility of FY 2015 Operation Orders to designated localities within the United States Border States and territories.