News Release
September 12, 2006

$28 Million Worth Of Cocaine Seized In Puerto Rico
Greek-flagged vessel arrives at the San Juan port with 4900 pounds of cocaine

SEP 12 -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico; Jerome M. Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Lydia St. John-Mellado, acting Special agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and Luis S. Fraticelli, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today the seizure of 4,904 pounds of cocaine on board the Greek-flagged vessel M/V Sierra Express at the port of San Juan. The estimated street value of the cocaine seized is $28 million. The seizure was part of the Caribbean Corridor Initiative, an investigative/law enforcement initiative by ICE, DEA, FBI, United States Coast Guard (USCG), U.S Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the United States Attorney’s Office, that targets motor vessels smuggling narcotics into and out of the Eastern Caribbean.

The M/V Sierra Express docked at the port of San Juan at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Sep. 10, 2006. The vessel’s last port of call prior to arriving in San Juan was Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

During an inspection of the vessel, a K-9 unit of CBP alerted on several boxes of printing paper inside one of the containers of the Sierra Express. The container was subsequently transported to the examination facilities of CBP, where a thorough search revealed the presence of numerous kilo-size packages of a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine.

“Caribbean Corridor Initiative has proven to be an absolute success” said Jerome M. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Caribbean Division. “DEA’s strong presence in the Caribbean, our excellent relationships with our foreign, national, state, and local counterparts and our leadership in this initiative are the key to that success.”

“This massive seizure is another example of our ongoing efforts to curtail the importation of narcotics into Puerto Rico and the United States through the Caribbean Corridor Initiative,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Once again our combined law enforcement efforts have resulted in a substantial disruption of drug trafficking activities in our area of responsibility.”

“Through the Caribbean Corridor Initiative, ICE, along with the FBI, DEA, the USCG, and CBP, have been able to intercept tons of narcotics destined to the United States,” said Lydia St. John-Mellado, special agent in charge of ICE investigations in San Juan. “We have the technology, resources and intelligence to detect any type of contraband coming into the United States from abroad, and we will continue working together to prevent these massive quantities of narcotics from reaching the streets of Puerto Rico.”

The Puerto Rico Police Department and the San Juan Municipal Police also participated in this seizure.