Coast Guard nabs 2 Dominican smugglers, seizes $4 million dollar cocaine shipment

Coast Guard District 7 NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Caribbean Border Interagency Group federal law enforcement authorities arrested two Dominican smugglers, seized a 20-foot boat and 165 kilograms (363.8 pounds) of cocaine, following an at-sea interdiction in the Mona Passage Wednesday.

The drug shipment was estimated to have a street value of approximately $4 million dollars.

“This was a successful interdiction thanks to the great interagency coordination and communication between the federal partners involved,” said Cmdr. Sam Jordan, Coast Guard Cutter Resolute commanding officer. “As a result, the smugglers will now be facing their day in court and these drugs will never hit the street.”

The crew of a Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch dash-8 aircraft detected two men aboard a suspicious boat traveling towards Puerto Rico during a law enforcement patrol Wednesday morning, approximately 14 nautical miles north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The crews of a Customs and Border Protection Marine Interceptor and medium lift helicopter began pursuing the vessel, which failed to heave and performed aggressive maneuvers to avoid interception.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a call from a Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch agent requesting assistance to interdict the non compliant vessel. The watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute to interdict the vessel.

The Coast Guard Cutter Resolute gave chase and forced the non compliant vessel to a full stop. Following the interdiction, a Coast Guard boarding team conducted an at-sea boarding and embarked the suspected smugglers aboard the Resolute, while the Resolute proceeded to tow the suspect vessel to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The crew of the Resolute conducted a more exhaustive search of the suspect vessel with the assistance Customs and Border Protection officers and Marine Interdiction Group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations agents in Mayaguez. Customs and Border Protection officers x-rayed the vessel revealing the seized contraband hidden inside. A total of 150 bricks of cocaine were retrieved from the boat, with a total weight of 165 kilograms (363.8 pounds).

The crew of the Resolute transferred custody of the Dominicans and the contraband to ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigations.

Coast Guard Cutter Resolute is a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter home ported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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. In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the United States 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.

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