New Orleans - Acting on information received from the master of a vessel while at sea, U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested three residents and citizens of the Dominican Republic that had been discovered hiding in life rafts on board a ship whose last port of call was Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
CBP officers with a canine, assisted by U.S. Coast Guard and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, boarded the vessel upon its arrival at the lower Mississippi River. The team conducted an extensive search for additional stowaways and contraband, although none were found.
Two of the stowaways had been previously deported. All have extensive criminal histories due to the fact that each was found to have entered the United States illegally in the past and engaged in criminal drug activity such as possession and distribution of heroin, cocaine and other controlled substances.
In addition to the prior records, one subject had an active arrest warrant out of New York for dangerous drugs. All three men were taken into custody by CBP and transported to the St. Charles Parish Prison for processing. Subjects were placed in jail pending further action by authorities; the case has been referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
"CBP's commitment to the protection of our nation's borders and the alert actions of the vessel's crew, prevented these men, all of whom have a history of extensive criminal drug activity, from entering and remaining in our country illegally," said Mitchell Merriam, CBP New Orleans area port director. "This arrest is an outstanding example of the daily collaboration between our industry and DHS partners and the seriousness with which we take our homeland security role."
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.