February 19, 2015
Contact: Ana Pino
Phone Number: (787) 277-4700
DEA, USCG Interdicts 1,729 Pounds Of Marijuana, Nabs Russian Smuggler, Seizes Sailing Vessel In Caribbean Sea
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo and a U.S. naval vessel with a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment onboard apprehended a Russian smuggler and intercepted 1,729 pounds of marijuana aboard a Finnish-flagged sailing vessel in the Caribbean Sea Saturday, approximately 130 nautical miles south of the Dominican Republic.
The interdiction was the result of a multi-agency DEA led law enforcement effort in support of Operation Unified Resolve and Operation Caribbean Guard. The drug shipment was estimated to have a wholesale value of approximately $1.6 million dollars.
"This interdiction highlights the strong interagency partnerships and collective resolve to protect our maritime border and bring those responsible to justice,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Sector San Juan Commander.
While on a routine patrol the morning of Feb. 14, 2015, the crew of the naval vessel detected the suspicious 40-foot sailing vessel transiting the Caribbean Sea. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to interdict the suspect vessel.
When the Key Largo boarded with the sailing vessel, the crew located a total of 43 packages of suspected contraband. The contraband tested positive for marijuana.
The Key Largo detained the master along with the contraband and towed the vessel towards Puerto Rico.
The marijuana, the suspected smuggler, and sailing vessel were transferred Wednesday to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Since January 2014, the Coast Guard has seized 15,104 kilograms of cocaine and 5,320 pounds of marijuana during 14 counter-drug interdictions as part of Operation Unified Resolve. The wholesale value for these seizures is worth more than $508 million.
The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results being achieved locally each and every day under Operation Caribbean Guard, which coordinates efforts between the Coast Guard, DHS and Commonwealth and Territorial law enforcement partners, who are working diligently to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Coast Guard Cutters Key Largo and Sapelo are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.