The following statement concerns an agent involved shooting which occurred near Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, November 17, 2022. The information is based on a preliminary review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility and may be updated with additional information.
In the early morning hours of November 17, 2022, CBP marine interdiction agents were alerted to a suspicious vessel southwest of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. At approximately 7:51 a.m., three agents in a CBP vessel arrived in an area located approximately 13 miles southwest from Cabo Rojo to intercept the boat. A second boat, which was near the first, moved away from the area as the CBP vessel approached.
Agents approached the initial vessel and identified themselves as law enforcement officials at approximately 7:54 a.m. During the encounter, an occupant of the subject vessel and the agents exchanged gunfire, resulting in the death of the vessel’s captain, a man who was a citizen of the United States.
One of the agents transmitted over the radio that the agents were wounded and needed assistance at 7:59 a.m. CBP’s Caribbean Air and Marine Operations Center received the call for assistance and immediately alerted the U.S. Coast Guard and additional CBP Air and Marine units to respond. A Coast Guard vessel received the call for help and responded to the area.
Another agent was alerted to the incident and departed from the dock at approximately 8:25 a.m. in a CBP vessel accompanied by two Puerto Rico Police Department Marine Unit personnel; they arrived on scene at approximately 8:39 a.m. All three agents aboard the first CBP vessel were injured in the incident. The second occupant of the subject boat, a U.S. citizen, had already been placed in handcuffs.
The agents were evacuated from the scene via a Coast Guard helicopter at approximately 9:05 a.m. Two agents were transported to Centro Medico Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the third agent was transported to Mayaguez Medical Center in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. One agent died of trauma sustained from gunshot wounds while being treated at the hospital.
A Coast Guard vessel located the second boat which had been spotted by the agents before the incident. Coast Guard members found narcotics on board the second boat and arrested the two occupants. A total of 1348 kilograms of cocaine was recovered between both boats.
This incident is under investigation by the FBI and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The DHS Office of Inspector General was notified of the incident.