CBP, USCG Seizes 30 Bales of Marijuana Off the Southern Coast of Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), US Coast Guard (USCG) assets intercepted a vessel Saturday evening attempting to smuggle 30 bales of marijuana totaling 750 pounds, with an approximated street value of $1.8 million, near Ponce in the southern coast of the island. Two men were arrested and a two-engine vessel was seized.
Near midnight, a CBP Office of Air and Marine Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) crewed by New Orleans Air and Marine Branch personnel detected a twin engine open fisherman fiberglass vessel approximately 50 nautical miles south of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. The vessel maintained an easterly course at approximately 15 knots, without navigation lights.
The MPA maintained constant surveillance of the vessel as CBP Mayaguez and Ponce Marine Units were recalled to respond and intercept the vessel for further inspection. The MPA crew also notified the situation to Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan, who in turn, diverted the Coast Guard Cutters Reliance and Farallon to interdict the suspect vessel.
As the USCG Cutter Reliance and cutter boat approached the go-fast vessel, the go-fast vessel operator failed to heave to and a high-speed chase ensued. The crew of the Reliance finally intercepted the go-fast vessel, approximately 40 miles southeast of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
The combined efforts resulted in the interdiction a twin engine Fountain vessel registered in St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Inside the front compartment of the vessel USCG personnel found 30 bales of marijuana.
Custody of the two individuals on board, one U.S. citizen, and one Jamaican national, the narcotics and the vessel were transferred over to Special Agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation and prosecution.
Charges were presented against the individuals for consideration of the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. Special Assistant US Attorney Kelley L. Tiffany is in charge of prosecution.
CBP’s dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband. CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration and customs laws, but they enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and have stopped thousands of violators of U.S. law.
The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Rapid Action Forces (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), in their common goal of securing the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands borders against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
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.