Caribbean Corridor Strike Force arrests 5, seizes $46 million in cocaine

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Coast Guardsmen, working jointly with Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) agents, arrested five suspected Honduran smugglers and seized 66 bales of cocaine in San Juan Friday, following an at-sea interdiction of the fishing vessel Two Brothers on May 24.

The 87-foot, Panamanian flagged, fishing vessel was carrying 3,262 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of approximately $46 million. CCSF agents arrested the five Honduran men in connection with the seizure.

“These arrests and multi-kilogram seizure are a clear indication of the success of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Initiative,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try to smuggle illegal contraband into our area of jurisdiction.”

As a result of the joint investigative efforts by CCSF participants, the crew of the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate Van Speijk along with an embedded U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment interdicted the Two Brothers in international waters May 24, approximately 34 miles northwest of Oranjestad, Aruba.

Coast Guard crews boarded the Two Brothers, located the cocaine, and detained the crewmembers of the fishing vessel.

Following successful coordination between CCSF agencies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico and Republic of Panama officials, the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing escorted the Two Brothers to San Juan Friday, where they turned over custody of the fishing vessel, the contraband, and the detained crew to awaiting CCSF agents.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico accepted to prosecute the five Hondurans, who will be transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, where they will await trial.

CCSF is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement initiative that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States.

CCSF is composed by the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

Coast Cuard Cutter’s Reef Shark and Cushing are 87-foot and 110-foot patrol boats respectively home ported in San Juan.

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