News Release
June 11, 2010
Contact: SA Waldo Santiago
Public Information Officer
Number: (787) 277-4700

DEA, ICE, USCG Arrest 3, Seize 242 Kilos of Cocaine with a Street Value
of $7.5 Million

USCG personnel bring M/V LA Burla to the Port of Mayaguez USCG and CBP Officers search for contraband
USCG personnel bring M/V LA Burla to the Port of Mayaguez.
USCG and CBP Officers search for contraband.

JUN 11 -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cutter Cushing, working jointly with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, arrested Thursday June 10 three alleged smugglers and seized approximately 242 pounds of cocaine in Mayaguez, following an at-sea interdiction of a pleasure craft.

The 26-foot vessel, La Burla, was carrying a shipment of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $7.5 million. DEA and ICE special agents arrested two Puerto Rican and one Dominican man in connection with the seizure.

"Through these seizures we are sending a clear message that Puerto Rico will not be a safe haven for criminals looking to ship drugs into Puerto Rico and the mainland United States," said Roberto Escobar-Vargas, ICE acting special agent in charge in San Juan. "ICE, along with DEA, USCG and the Puerto Rico Police are committed to working together to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into Puerto Rico."

Cocaine discovered concealed in the marine vessel CBP and DEA agents counting the kilos of  the cocaine seized from M/V La Burla
Cocaine discovered concealed in the marine vessel.
CBP and DEA agents counting the kilos of the cocaine seized from M/V La Burla.

"This is another example of our collective efforts with DEA, ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Puerto Rico Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office working aggressively to combat drug trafficking organizations and bring smugglers to justice," said Capt. Eduardo Pino, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander.

The crew of the USCG Cushing detected and interdicted the suspicious pleasure craft Thursday morning in waters approximately four nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Upon interdicting the vessel, the crew of the Cushing conducted an at-sea boarding of La Burla, which revealed the drug shipment hidden inside a compartment onboard the vessel. Further field testing of the contraband yielded positive to cocaine. The crew of the Cushing proceeded to detain all three crew members onboard and escort La Burla to the Port of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The crew of the Cushing, DEA, ICE, and CBP officers conducted a further search of La Burla once it was safely moored in Mayaguez.

The case was transferred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico for further prosecution.

USCG Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan.