Coast Guard offloads $13.3 million in cocaine, heroin in San Juan

Coast Guard, DEA, and Customs and Border Protection law enforcement authorities offload of 491.5 kilograms of cocaine and 9.2 kilograms of heroin worth an estimated wholesale value of $13.3 million at Coast Guard Sector San Juan April 18, 2018. The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon, with the assistance of a Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft, interdicted a go-fast vessel, apprehended two smugglers and seized the contraband April 14, 2018, in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad, Sector San Juan Public Affairs Specialist.)

The Coast Guard offloaded of 491.5 kilograms of cocaine and 9.2 kilograms of heroin worth an estimated wholesale value of $13.3 million at Coast Guard Sector San Juan April 18, 2018.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad, Sector San Juan Public Affairs Specialist.)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard transferred custody of two suspected smugglers, 491.5 kilograms of cocaine and 9.2 kilograms of suspected heroin worth an estimated wholesale value of $13.3 million at Coast Guard Sector San Juan Tuesday, following a recent interagency interdiction by Caribbean Border Interagency Group partner agencies in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico.

The crew of a patrolling Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) maritime patrol aircraft initially detected a 30-foot go-fast vessel Saturday afternoon transiting 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 and seized multiple bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.

The crew of the Richard Dixon later rendezvoused with and transferred the contraband and detainees to the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez for transport to Coast Guard Sector San Juan where Drug Enforcement Administration Financial Investigative Team Special Agents in charge of the investigation took custody of the case.

“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 Capt. Eric P. King, Sector San Juan commander. “This successful interdiction resulted in the detention of two smugglers and kept a major drug shipment off the streets.” “Inter-agency relentless mission of disrupting and dismantling transnational drug trafficking organizations will continue,” said Reinaldo R. López, DEA Caribbean Division Associate Special Agent in Charge. “DEA warns drug traffickers, especially across the Caribbean, that we are hunting them down in an all-year-round open season.” The two men apprehended in this case, a U.S. Citizen from Puerto Rico and a Dominican Republic national are now in the custody of federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico, where they are facing potential prosecution.

This interdiction was the result of ongoing, multi-agency federal law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group.

The Richard Dixon and Heriberto Hernandez are 154-foot Fast Response Cutters homeported in San Juan.

The Caribbean Border Interagency Group was formally created to unify efforts between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling threats.

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