March 30, 2011
Contact: Ana Pino
Phone Number: (787) 277-4700
Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Intercepts Vessel With 290 Pounds Of Cocaine Onboard
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - U.S. Customs and Border (CBP) marine interdiction agents stopped a vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico that was transporting 290 pounds of cocaine, as a result of an operation coordinated by the Caribbean Corridor Strike (CCSF) member agencies.
During a routine patrol, a CBP surveillance aircraft detected two suspicious vessels engaged in what appeared to be an at-sea transfer of suspected contraband. After the cargo transfer took place, the CBP air crew observed one vessel heading toward the Dominican Republic and the other toward Puerto Rico. The CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch notified the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan and other CBP agents to prepare for a combined Caribbean Corridor Strike Force interdiction and prosecution effort.
A CBP marine interceptor responded and at approximately six miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico CBP agents were able to intercept a yola-type vessel with two persons onboard. A subsequent search of the vessel revealed six packages containing approximately 132 bricks that field-tested positive for cocaine.
The suspect vessel was transported to the CBP Mayagüez Marine Unit, where later, the cocaine, with a street value of $3 million, and the two U.S. citizens onboard was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration agents assigned to the CCSF for further examination and processing.
The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force is joint Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF) Strike Force-HIDTA initiative to investigate 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 member agencies are: the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police Department.