Coast Guard transfers custody of 3 smugglers, $3.75 million in cocaine

A Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan crew transfers custody of three men and $3.75 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico Nov. 1, 2021. The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley interdicted a drug smuggling go-fast Oct. 29, 2021, in Atlantic waters north of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, that resulted in the apprehension of the three smugglers and the seizure of 125 kilograms of cocaine. The interdiction is the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad)

A Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan crew transfers custody of three men and $3.75 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico Nov. 1, 2021.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan crew transferred custody of three men and $3.75 million in seized cocaine Monday to federal agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley crew seized 125 kilograms of cocaine after interdicting a drug smuggling go-fast vessel Friday afternoon, in Atlantic waters north of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.

The apprehended smugglers, Dominican Republic nationals, are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico on drug smuggling criminal charges of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance Aboard a Vessel Subject to the Jurisdiction of the United States. The charges carry a minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life. The Transnational Organized Crime Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hutchins from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution for this case.

During a routine patrol of Puerto Rico’s northern coast, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection maritime enforcement aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast vessel.

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley to interdict the suspect vessel. Once on scene and with the assistance of the cutter’s Over the Horizon boat, the crew of the Donald Horsley intercepted the go-fast vessel, seized five bales of suspected contraband, and apprehended the three smugglers.

A Station San Juan 45-foot Response Boat-Medium rendezvoused with the cutter Horsley and embarked the seized contraband and detainees for transport to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“The professionalism, close collaboration and quick response between the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley, our watchstanders and the aircrew of the Customs and Border Protection aircraft resulted the successful interdiction of a drug smuggling go-fast vessel and the apprehension of three smugglers,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “This case reflects the Coast Guard’s unwavering commitment working alongside our fellow federal and local partner agencies to protect the nation’s coasts and safeguard of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico against drug smuggling threats.”

The interdiction is the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

The CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Coast Guard, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Department’s (PRPD) Joint Forces for Rapid Action.

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