January 31, 2011
Contact: Ana Pino
Phone Number: (787) 277-4700
DEA Lead Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Seize Boat, 95 Kilograms Of Cocaine
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - U.S. Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Customs and Border (CBP) agents, working jointly with DEA lead Caribbean Corridor Strike (CCSF), arrested two suspected Dominican smugglers and seized approximately 95 kilograms of cocaine and an 18-foot (yola), following an at-sea interdiction Monday in the Mona Passage.
The crew of a CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch surveillance aircraft detected two men aboard an 18-foot yola Sunday night traveling towards Puerto Rico without any navigation lights, approximately 20 nautical miles northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
With support of a CBP helicopter, a Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan 45-foot response boat and the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus approached the suspect vessel, as the passengers onboard the yola proceeded to throw their cargo overboard.
The crew of the Boat Station San Juan 45-foot response boat intercepted the suspect vessel that was taking on water and embarked the two Dominicans due to safety concerns. The Coast Guard crew was able to dewater the yola and prevent it from sinking.
The crew of the Boat Station San Juan response boat recovered two suitcases of the suspected contraband from the water, while the crew of the Matinicus recovered one other. A field test sample indicated that the suitcases contained cocaine.
The custody of the two Dominicans and the 95 kilograms of cocaine were transferred Monday afternoon to Drug Enforcement (DEA) and Immigration and Customs (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations agents for further investigations.
Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus is a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan.
CCSF is DEA led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and HIDTA initiative that 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. CCSF members are the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, ICE, DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, CBP and U.S. Coast Guard.