SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon and the USS Shamal successfully interdicted more than 1,110 kilograms of cocaine and detained four suspected smugglers in international waters in the Caribbean Sea April 7.
The suspected smugglers, a Colombian and three Venezuelan men, were transferred to the Department of Justice, Southern District of Florida for prosecution along with the contraband that was estimated to have a wholesale value of approximately $32.7 million dollars.
This interdiction is a result of a combined effort between the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), the U.S. Coast Guard, and our international partners to combat illicit drugs being trafficked into the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as part of Operation Unified Resolve.
“Our strong interagency and international partnerships and collective resolve continue to yield positive results in stemming the flow of illicit contraband in the Caribbean and protecting our shores from this common threat,” said Capt. Robert W. Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan Commander. “The swift response and coordination between the responding units prevented this illegal drug shipment from reaching shore and ensured four smugglers were brought to justice.”
During a routine patrol April 7, the crew of a maritime patrol aircraft flying in support of JIATF-S detected a suspicious 30-foot blue-hulled go-fast vessel with four men and possible contraband on board. The go- fast vessel was detected approximately 150 nautical miles south of La Romana, Dominican Republic. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan working in coordination with JIATF-S, diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon and the USS Shamal to interdict the suspect vessel.
The Richard Dixon and USS Shamal deployed their Over the Horizon boats to interdict the suspect vessel. The crew of the Richard Dixon’s cutter boat arrived on scene and fired warning shots that effectively stopped the go-fast. A Coast Guard boarding team from the Richard Dixon located 35 bales of suspected contraband hidden inside the go-fast’s hull, which later tested positive for cocaine.
The Richard Dixon detained and embarked the suspected smugglers as well as the contraband.
“The coordination between the JIATF-S aircraft, USS Shamal, Sector San Juan, and Richard Dixon was superb,” said Lt. David Gilbert, cutter Richard Dixon commanding officer. “A lot has to go right for one of these stops to happen… On the ship, everything from making sure the engines run at top end to making sure the law enforcement team is dressed out and ready requires a team effort. Richard Dixon’s seasoned crew and law enforcement team executed this stop extremely well because we worked together.”
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. We are unified in our commitment with our local partners to stem the flow of illicit trafficking destined for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to help reverse the upward trend in the record number of drug-related homicides and violent crime.
The Richard Dixon and the Kathleen Moore are 154-foot Fast Response Cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Key West Fla. respectively.
The USS Shamal is a Cyclone-class Patrol Coastal (PC 13) homeported in Mayport Fla.