Coast Guard, ICE special agents arrest 3 smugglers off Puerto Rico waters, seize $7.5 million in cocaine

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico-The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing, working jointly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, arrested three smugglers and seized approximately 534 pounds of cocaine and 10 pounds of an undetermined substance in Mayaguez, following an at-sea interdiction of a pleasure craft Thursday.

The 26-foot vessel “La Burla” was carrying a shipment of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $7.5 million. ICE special agents arrested two Puerto Rican and one Dominican men in connection with the seizure.

“This is another example of our collective efforts with ICE, DEA, FBI, CBP, the Puerto Rico Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office working aggressively to combat drug trafficking organizations and bring smugglers to justice,” said Capt. Eduardo Pino, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing detected and interdicted the suspicious pleasure craft Thursday morning in waters approximately four nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Upon interdicting the vessel, the crew of the Cushing conducted an at-sea boarding of “La Burla,” which revealed the drug shipment inside a hidden compartment onboard the vessel. Further field testing of the contraband yielded positive to cocaine. The crew of the Cushing proceeded to detain all three crew members onboard and escort “La Burla” to the Port of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The crew of the Cushing, Customs and Border Protection officers and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents conducted a further search of “La Burla” once it was safely moored in Mayaguez.

The case was transferred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico for further prosecution.

Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan.

Photos from the arrest can be viewed at the Coast Guard News Facebook page.

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