DEA Caribbean Corridor and New York OCDETF Strike Force Arrests Five, Seizes 1.5 Metric Tons Of Cocaine Worth $46 Million
JUN 7 -- (SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) - DEA Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) agents, working jointly with DEA New York OCDETF agents and U.S. Coast Guard personnel, arrested last Friday five suspected Honduran smugglers and seized 66 bales of cocaine in San Juan, following an at-sea interdiction of the fishing vessel Two Brothers on May 24, announced Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Caribbean Division, and Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
The 87-foot, Panamanian flagged, fishing vessel was carrying 3,269 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of approximately $46 million. DEA CCSF agents arrested the five Honduran men in connection with the seizure.
“These arrests and multi-kilogram seizure are a clear indication of the success of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Initiative,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try to smuggle illegal contraband into our area of jurisdiction.”
“With every seizure the DEA led Caribbean Corridor Strike Force continues to prove the value of interagency cooperation” said Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Caribbean Division. “DEA’s partnership with ICE, CBP, FBI, USCG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Caribbean Corridor Initiative once more proves it effectiveness.”
As a result of the joint investigative efforts by DEA CCSF participants, the crew of the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate Van Speijk, along with an embedded U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment, interdicted the Two Brothers vessel in international waters on May 24, approximately 34 miles northwest of Oranjestad, Aruba. U.S. Coast Guard crews boarded the Two Brothers, located the cocaine, and detained the crewmembers of the fishing vessel.
Following successful coordination between DEA CCSF agencies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico, and Republic of Panama officials, the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing escorted the Two Brothers to San Juan on Friday, where they turned over custody of the fishing vessel, the contraband, and the detained crew to awaiting DEA CCSF agents.
This case has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Carlos R. Cardona from the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) of the United States Attorney’s Office. CCSF is led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and is an initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. DEA CCSF is a part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States.
The CCSF is led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In addition to DEA, the following agencies participate in the DEA CCSF: the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
Coast Guard Cutter’s Reef Shark and Cushing are 87-foot and 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan.
The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.