Coast Guard offloads $44.2 million of cocaine interdicted in the Caribbean Sea

Coast Guardsmen offload 65 bales of cocaine, weighing approximately 1,340 kilograms at Coast Guard Base San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 26, 2015. The drugs were seized by the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon during the disruption of two drug smuggling attempts in the Caribbean Sea and were estimated to have a wholesale value of $44.2 million. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad)

Coast Guardsmen offload 65 bales of cocaine, weighing approximately 1,340 kilograms at Coast Guard Base San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 26, 2015.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guardsmen offloaded approximately 1,340 kilograms of cocaine Monday, seized during two separate drug smuggling attempts in the Caribbean Sea, worth an estimated wholesale value of $44.2 million dollars, at Coast Guard Base San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The disruptions and seizures of these drug shipments were the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve and Caribbean Guard.

“With coordinated efforts we kept these drugs from making it to their intended destination – an overall success for the ongoing counter drug team in the Caribbean,” said Lt. David Gilbert, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon.”

“The relationships and partnerships between our federal and regional partners in the Caribbean continue to yield positive results in disrupting and interdicting at sea the flow of drugs from South America,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “Our collective resolve in preventing these drug shipments from reaching our borders is making a difference.”

In one case, the crew of a (SNC) DH-8 aircraft flying in support of Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATF-South) detected a suspicious go-fast vessel Oct. 19 with three people and possible contraband on board. The go fast vessel was detected approximately 45 nautical miles southeast of Saint-Jean-du-Sud, Haiti.

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon and Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr. responded to interdict the suspect vessel. Upon noticing the presence of law enforcement authorities in the area, the crew of the go-fast proceeded to jettison their cargo overboard and flee the area. The Richard Dixon arrived on scene quickly and recovered 57 bales that weighed approximately 1,140 kilograms and later tested positive for cocaine.

In a second case the crew of  an (SNC) DH-8 aircraft flying in support of JIATF – South, that was later relieved during the patrol by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, detected three men aboard a suspicious go-fast vessel carrying a load of suspected contraband Oct. 21.  The aircrew observed the people aboard the go-fast jettisoning part of their cargo overboard as the vessel continued to move towards the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon and Coast Guard CutterMatinicus responded in coordination with Dominican Republic Navy authorities to interdict the suspect vessel.

The Richard Dixon and the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus set up a course to interdict the suspect go-fast. The Matinicus reacquired the go-fast and shared with Dominican Republic authorities the position where the vessel made landfall in Isla Saona. The Richard Dixon recovered eight bales of suspected contraband jettisoned from the go-fast, which weighed approximately 200 kilograms and tested positive for cocaine. Ashore, Dominican Republic authorities detained one of the suspected smugglers and seized 25 additional bales of contraband from the go-fast.

The cocaine shipments recovered by the Richard Dixon were transported by the Coast Guard to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they were transferred to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents.

Operation Unified Resolve is a coordinated effort among the Coast Guard and its Department of Homeland Security partners intended to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results being achieved locally each and every day under Operation Caribbean Guard, which coordinates efforts between the Coast Guard, DHS and Commonwealth and Territorial law enforcement partners, who are working diligently to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Richard Dixon and the Charles David Jr. are 154-foot Fast Response Cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Key West, Fla. respectively.

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