SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —The Coast Guard offloaded approximately 929 kilograms of cocaine Tuesday in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and another 400 kilograms of cocaine Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The offloads come after two recent at sea interdictions in international waters near Puerto Rico. The seized cocaine from both interdictions is estimated to have a wholesale value of $44.5 million dollars.
Five suspected smugglers, all Dominican nationals, have been turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice for potential prosecution; three by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of the Virgin Islands, and two by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.
The first interdiction took place the morning of March 15, after a 30-foot go-fast vessel was detected by a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew in international waters off Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watch standers at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon to interdict the suspect vessel of interest. The cutter crew interdicted the go-fast, detained two suspected smugglers and seized numerous bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine and weighed approximately 400 kilograms.
The second interdiction took place during the evening of March 15, when a second go-fast vessel was detected by the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft in waters off Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watch standers at Sector San Juan diverted the cutter Richard Dixon crew to interdict the second go-fast vessel. The cutter crew detained three suspected smugglers and seized approximately 929 kilograms of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.
“Results like these come from strong established partnerships and a shared common resolve from all our federal and local law enforcement agencies who work tirelessly day in and day out to interdict drug smuggling vessels at sea and bring those responsible to justice,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Sector San Juan commander. “Our new fleet of fast response cutters is making a difference in stopping drug smuggling go-fasts and providing for the security of our citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
The contraband offloaded in Puerto Rico was placed in the custody of the DEA’s Caribbean Division, while the contraband offloaded in the U.S. Virgin Islands was placed in the custody of the DEA special agents in St. Croix for processing and disposition.
These interdictions were the result of ongoing, multi-agency and international law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.
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 the 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 Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.