Coast Guard Nabs Drug Smuggler and $11 Million Cocaine Shipment

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Coast Guard personnel, working with their partners in the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG), Puerto Rico, under the Caribbean Corridor Initiative, conducted a drug interdiction Tuesday off the west coast of Puerto Rico, arresting a purported drug smuggler and seizing approximately 1,248 pounds of cocaine and less than a pound of marijuana, with a street value of approximately $11 million.

Details of the drug busting interdiction are as follows:

The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft detected a suspicious vessel Tuesday at approximately 8:30 a.m. traveling towards the west coast of Puerto Rico. The crew of the Customs and Border Protection aircraft contacted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo which diverted and intercepted the vessel. This vessel was being operated by Carlos González Méndez, who was the sole occupant inside.

Upon boarding the vessel, the crew of the Key Largo proceeded to conduct a safety inspection. As a result of the inspection, the boarding team observed square brick-like packages in several ice coolers located on the vessel. The bricks were field tested and yielded positive to cocaine. The vessel was transported into the Port of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, where a further search conducted by the crew of the Key Largo alongside Customs and Border Protection officers and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, revealed that the vessel contained approximately 1,248 pounds of cocaine.

Carlos González Méndez was placed under arrest and transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Elba Gorbea and Carlos R. Cardona.

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 Key Largo is 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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