Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell interdicts multi-million dollar cocaine shipment

d7SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell transferred custody of two smugglers and 18 bales of cocaine, to Dominican Republic Naval authorities Sunday, following an at-sea interdiction in waters south of the Dominican Republic Saturday.

The Norvell pursued the suspect go-fast vessel as it traveled northbound approximately 20 nautical miles south of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic Navy authorities also recovered 32 additional bales of cocaine, which had been jettisoned from a second drug smuggling vessel Saturday.

The illegal drug shipment consisted of 50 bales of cocaine, weighing approximately 2,064 pounds, with an estimated wholesale value of approximately $24 million dollars.

The interdiction was a result of U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Joint Interagency Task Force-South and Dominican Republic Navy coordinated efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve and Operation Caribbean Guard.

“The strong partnerships and efficient interagency coordination between regional law enforcement and Dominican Republic authorities resulted in the successful interdiction of this major drug shipment and the apprehension of two smugglers,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. “We stand committed to securing the nation’s Caribbean maritime border and will continue to aggressively employ all available resources to interdict illegal drug trafficking activities at-sea and bring those responsible to justice.”

During a routine law enforcement patrol in the Caribbean Sea Saturday morning, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 maritime patrol aircraft from Air Station Miami detected two men aboard a suspicious go-fast vessel carrying a load of suspected contraband.

Coast Guard Watchstanders from Sector San Juan proceeded to divert the Margaret Norvell and coordinate with Dominican Republic Navy authorities to interdict the suspect vessel. Once on scene, the Margaret Norvell deployed their Over the Horizon cutter boat and interdicted the suspect vessel in Dominican Republic territorial waters. The crew of the Margaret Norvell proceeded to embark the 18 bales of suspected contraband as well as the two detained smugglers. A field test revealed the suspected contraband to be cocaine.

The Margaret Norvell rendezvoused with Dominican Republic Navy authorities Sunday afternoon, to whom they transferred custody the seized cocaine shipment and two smugglers. The detained smugglers are to be charged and prosecuted by Dominican Republic authorities.

The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results being achieved each and every day locally under Operation Caribbean Guard, which coordinates efforts between the Coast Guard, its DHS, 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 Margaret Norvell is a 154-foot Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter homeported in Miami.

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