AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico –U.S. Border Patrol and the Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA, in Spanish) seized Thursday evening 581 pounds (263 Kilos) of cocaine and arrested two United States citizens attempting to enter the island via Mayaguez. The estimated street value of the seized contraband is $6.5 million.
“Keeping these dangerous drugs off of our streets is a shared responsibility. Law Enforcement entities work 24 hours a day to keep our island safe, “stated Xavier Morales, Chief Patrol Agent for Ramey Sector. “I would like to remind the community to also remain vigilant for illegal activity taking place near their communities. If you see something suspicious, contact us. Together, we can increase safety and improve the quality of life here.”
A FURA Marine unit detected a vessel bearing Puerto Rico registration, with two subjects onboard near Key Rodriguez in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. FURA agents proceeded to conduct a vessel check under Puerto Rico Maritime law finding a brick shaped object that appeared to be cocaine.
Border Patrol agents, CBP Officers and ICE Enforcement and Removal agents assisted in the search of the vessel finding 237 bricks of a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for the properties of cocaine with a final weight of 263.419 kilograms.
Border Patrol Agents placed on arrest Jose Luis Mendez-Rodriguez, 49, and William Matias-Torres, 59.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is in charge of the prosecution and investigation of the case.
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.
The Ramey Sector is one of the twenty-one Sectors spread out across the United States. Encompassing the U.S. territorial islands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it is the only Border Patrol Sector located outside the continental United States. The Sector's entire border area is made up of coastline and its area of responsibility is made up of some 6,000 square miles of land and water area, including the twelve-mile band of territorial water surrounding the Islands.
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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 official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.