AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) convened this week with current and new Operation Stonegarden grantees and partners to sustain border security operational plan, and ensure program continuity throughout Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Representing the Preparedness and Coordination Directorate of the U.S. Border Patrol, Assistant Chief Maurice Gill, and Assistant Chief Luis Calderon gathered with grantees from the Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym), the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Virgin Islands Police Department, and 11 municipal police departments.
The Operation Stonegarden Grant Program (OPSG), which started in Puerto Rico in 2009 with 3 municipal police departments, 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.
“Coordination and communication with municipal and state police partners through Operation Stonegarden has produced significant results in the interdiction of smuggling operations throughout our area,” stated Ramiro Cerrillo, Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Border Patrol Sector. “By granting approximately $2.5 million in the last 2 fiscal years, our grantees have assisted in seizing more than $60 million in narcotics.”
On Aug.30, active partner FURA seized 2,972 pounds (1,348 Kilos) of cocaine in the northeastern town of Loiza, with an estimated street value of $37 million.
Furthermore, on Jan. 16, the Isabela Municipal Police and CBP seized 340 pounds (154 kilos) of cocaine found concealed in a beach within their town, with an estimated value of $4.3 million. On Mar. 2015, another Operation Stongarden led operation produced the seizure of 2,513 pounds (1,140 kilos) of cocaine worth an estimated $32 million.
OPSG funds are allocated based on risk-based prioritization using a CBP Border Patrol Sector-specific border risk methodology. Factors considered are threat, vulnerability, miles of border, and other border-specific “law enforcement intelligence,” as well as feasibility of FY 2015-2016 Operation Orders to designated localities within the United States Border States and territories
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.