SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The United States Coast Guard says it recently transferred custody of two suspected smugglers and 430 kilograms of seized cocaine to US federal law enforcement authorities at the Coast Guard Sector in Puerto Rico following the interdiction of a drug smuggling go-fast in the Caribbean Sea.
The Coast Guard said the seized drug shipment is more than US$12 million.
The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of the Miami-based US Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) programme and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution for this case.
“The positive outcome in this case is a reflection of the professionalism and unwavering resolve of the Richard Dixon crew and of our fellow Coastguardsmen and federal law enforcement partners involved in this case,” said Lt. Matthew Monahan, US Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon (WPC-1113) commanding officer.
“Our collective efforts resulted in preventing 430 kilograms of cocaine from reaching the streets and the apprehension of two smugglers who will now have their day in court,” he added.
The Coast Guard said the interdiction occurred following the detection of a suspicious 30-foot go-fast vessel, with two people aboard, by the crew of a patrolling a US maritime patrol aircraft.
It said the Cutter Richard Dixon responded to the sighting and interdicted the go-fast with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat, following which, the boarding team located 21 bales of suspected contraband aboard the go-fast that the smugglers attempted to conceal with a blue tarp.
The boarding team placed the two men in custody and embarked them aboard the cutter along with the seized contraband, that was designated for the United States.
The two detainees were later transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier (WPB-1115) and transported to San Juan, where CCSF federal law enforcement agents received custody.
The US Southern Command, on April 1, began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs “in support of Presidential National Security Objectives.”
According to Coast Guard officials, numerous agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime.
The US Coast Guard said that along with the Navy, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in addition to allied and international partner agencies – they all played a role in counter-drug operations.
“The fight against drug cartels in the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and US Attorneys Offices in districts across the nation.”
It said the law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Caribbean Sea is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 7th District, headquartered in Miami.