Drug Traffickers in Region Put on Notice Following Multi-million-dollar Bust off Puerto Rico

The contraband seized in a recent drug bust at sea, off Puerto Rico. (Photo Credit: US Coast Guard/Ricardo Castrodad)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Tuesday April 24, 2018
– Two smugglers, 491.5 kilogrammes of cocaine and 9.2 kilogrammes of heroin worth an estimated wholesale value of US$13.3 million were held by the US Coast Guard in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico, during a recent inter-agency interdiction by Caribbean Border Inter-agency Group partner agencies.

The crew of a patrolling Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) maritime patrol aircraft initially detected the 30-foot go-fast vessel with two people onboard and visible packages on deck, south of Patillas, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon to intercept the suspect vessel while CAMB and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action positioned marine units that were also ready to respond.

The Richard Dixon arrived on scene and interdicted the go-fast, detained the suspected smugglers – a US citizen from Puerto Rico and a national of the Dominican Republic – and seized multiple bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.

“This case highlights the unwavering resolve and collective efforts of Coast Guard, federal and local law enforcement partners to strengthen the security of the Nation’s Caribbean border and protect our citizens from drug smuggling that threaten our shores,” said Captain Eric King, Sector San Juan commander with the US Coast Guard.

“This successful interdiction resulted in the detention of two smugglers and kept a major drug shipment off the streets.”

Reinaldo López, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Caribbean Division Associate Special Agent in Charge, added that inter-agency missions to disrupt and dismantle transnational drug trafficking organizations would continue.

“DEA warns drug traffickers, especially across the Caribbean, that we are hunting them down in an all-year-round open season.”

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