Coast Guard seizes $1.6 million cocaine shipment in the Mona Passage

USCG File Photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard law enforcement crews interdicted two Dominican smugglers in the Mona Passage Thursday, seizing a 20-foot yola (boat) and 155 pounds of cocaine with a street value of approximately $1.6 million dollars.

The crew of a Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch dash-8 aircraft initially detected two men aboard a suspicious yola traveling towards Puerto Rico during a law enforcement patrol Thursday afternoon, approximately 30 nautical miles southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted a Coast Guard Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement 33-foot response boat and the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to interdict the suspect vessel.

The passengers onboard the suspect vessel proceeded to throw bales of contraband overboard upon being detected by a Coast Guard law enforcement team. The Coast Guard boarding team was able to recover all five bales from the water of which, two contained electronic gear and the other three contained 60 bricks of a suspected illegal contraband.

Both, the crew of the 33-foot SPC-LE response boat and the Key Largo gave chase and pursued the suspect vessel until it came to a full stop. Coast Guard boarding team members embarked the smugglers along with the suspected contraband and they took the seized vessel in tow. A field test conducted by the crew of the Key Largo revealed the suspected contraband to be cocaine.

The crew of the Key Largo rendezvoused with awaiting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Thursday night, and transferred custody of the two Dominicans, the yola and the 60 bricks of cocaine for further investigations.

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

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