Coast Guard, partner agencies interdict suspect vessel near Puerto Rico

7th Coast Guard District NewsAGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard crews along with Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) federal law enforcement authorities seized approximately $190,000, a semi-automatic weapon, and approximately 300 rounds of ammunition from inside a single engine yola type vessel, northwest of Puerto Rico Wednesday night.

At midnight Wednesday, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Maritime Patrol Aircraft detected a vessel approximately 60 miles northwest of Puerto Rico. The vessel had no visible registration, flag or markings.

CBP personnel coordinated with watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico, to intercept the vessel at sea. A Coast Guard Air Station Miami aircrew and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing were diverted to interdict the vessel.

Cutter Cushing boarding team members located approximately $190,000, a semi-automatic weapon, and approximately 300 rounds of ammunition.

Cushing’s boarding team took custody of the five suspects aboard the vessel, currency, and weapon and transported them to Marine Interdiction Group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation Thursday at the Mayaguez Sea Port, Puerto Rico.

In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the Coast Guard, CBP, ICE, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) 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.

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.

The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan.

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