Operation Stonegarden Partnership Nets a $32 Million Cocaine Seizure
14 Dominican Republic nationals arrested; 5 vehicles and 1 firearm seized
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – With Operation Stonegarden situational awareness and intelligence, the Puerto Rico Police Department’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym) seized Tuesday 2,513 pounds (1,140 kilos) of cocaine on board a makeshift wooden vessel off the shore of the town of Loiza, in the northeastern coast of the island.
A group of 14 undocumented nationals of the Dominican Republic were arrested, along with seizing 5 vehicles and 1 firearm. The estimated value of the contraband is approximately $32 million.
Intelligence provided by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents led the FURA officers to sustain steady surveillance for several days of the river mouth the Rio Grande de Loiza, where in the early morning hours a maritime smuggling event was detected.
A police helicopter and vessel intercepted a 38’ twin engine fiberglass center console open fisherman vessel 3 miles from shore finding a large amount of narcotics in plain view in the vessel’s open bow.
Border Patrol Agents from the Ramey Station arrived on scene in response to the police request for assistance, interviewing the subjects determining they were illegally present in the United States.
The Border Patrol Agents assumed custody of the subjects, the weapon and the narcotics. A field test of the suspected narcotics indicated positive for the properties of cocaine.
“This is evidence of the extraordinary results that Operation Stonegarden can achieve through sustained collaboration and a grant investment,” state Ramiro Cerrillo, Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey 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.
OPSG funds were allocated based on risk-based prioritization using a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (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 2014 Operation Orders to designated localities within the United States Border States and territories.
For Fiscal Year 2014 the Puerto Rico Police Department FURA units received a grant totaling $228,329 to support their collaborative operations with the U.S. Border Patrol.
The case was turned over to the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) for further investigation and prosecution.
The CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney's Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the 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 using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of DEA, HSI, FBI, US Coast Guard, US Attorney Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and PRPD's Joint Forces for Rapid Action.
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.