AGUADILLA, PUERTO RICO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine assets intercepted a vessel Thursday with 249 kilos (549 pounds) of cocaine and arrested two U.S. citizens, residents of Puerto Rico.
The estimated street value is $4.9 million. The event resulted from efforts of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.
At approximately 10:40 a.m., on Thursday, a Marine Patrol Aircraft assigned to CBP's Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department agent, detected a suspicious fiberglass twin outboard center-console vessel traveling eastbound toward Puerto Rico with two people on board.
A second suspicious vessel - described as a single-engine, white fiberglass with light blue trim, with two persons wearing yellow raincoats, was observed in the vicinity traveling westbound towards the Dominican Republic. The proximity within the two vessels suggested a possible transfer of contraband at sea.
A CBP marine interceptor was launched to head off the vessel, reaching it approximately 10 miles off the coast of La Parguera on the southwestern coast of the island.
Once intercepted, the crew of the suspicious vessel were instructed to set course to the Mayaguez Marine Unit for further inspection. The inspections conducted by CBP's field operations officers and Border Patrol agents revealed approximately 199 bricks with a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine during a field drug test.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations special agents took custody of the narcotics and the two individuals for further investigation.
Those arrested were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They will have an initial hearing before a magistrate judge on Friday.
Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) is an initiative of the United States Attorney's Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is a part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, ICE HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard and PRPD's FURA.
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.