Coast Guard Nabs 7 Drug Smugglers with 968 Pounds of Cocaine

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Coast Guard personnel aboard cutters and aircraft, working with their partners in the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), Puerto Rico and with Dominican Republic Navy Law Enforcement authorities, made three drug interdictions in the Mona Passage Monday, detaining seven drug smugglers and seizing approximately 968 pounds of cocaine and 14 pounds of marijuana.

Two of the cases were accepted for prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico, while a third case is being prosecuted by Dominican Republic authorities.

Details of the drug busting interdictions are as follows:

  • The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection fixed-wing aircraft located a suspect vessel Monday night approximately 20 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague and a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action Cobra Marine Unit arrived on scene and stopped the non-compliant, 20-foot fiberglass vessel, about two nautical miles north of Desecheo Island. The crew of the Cobra Marine Unit took custody of three Dominicans and recovered approximately 398 pounds of cocaine and 14 pounds of marijuana. They towed the vessel to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico where they turned custody of the drugs and the smugglers over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
  • The crew of a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon Jet located a suspect 21-foot fiberglass vessel Monday evening, approximately 13 nautical miles northeast of Cabo EngaƱo, Dominican Republic. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk and the crew HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla responded to the scene as the suspect vessel headed back to the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard Sector San Juan controllers coordinated efforts with Dominican Republic Navy authorities who launched response boat Primavera to assist with the interdiction. The crew of the suspect vessel beached their boat in the vicinity of Punta Macao, Dominican Republic, where they were apprehended by Dominican Republic Navy authorities. One suspected smuggler escaped capture while two others were arrested and 526 pounds of cocaine were seized.
  • The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection fixed-wing aircraft located a 19-foot wooden yola and observed the crew dumping bales into the waters of the Mona Passage Monday morning. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, the crew of an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Unit, and a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action Cobra Marine Unit responded to the scene. The crew of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Unit interdicted and detained two U.S. citizens aboard the suspect vessel, approximately 17 nautical miles east of Mona Island, Puerto Rico, while the Cobra Marine Unit recovered approximately 44 pounds of cocaine. The yola and the detained smugglers were transported to Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

The concept of CBIG resulted from a March 2006 collaboration of local Homeland Security components that effectively stemmed the increased flow of traffic across the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air & Marine (A&M), Office of Field Operations (OFO), and Office of Border Patrol (OBP), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the United States Attorney ‘ s Office, District of Puerto Rico, in their common goal of securing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal maritime traffic and gaining control of our nation’s Caribbean borders.

Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk is a 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter home ported in Key West, Fla.

Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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