U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) intercepted a go fast-type vessel this week, carrying approximately 3,500 pounds of alleged cocaine.
The incident began as a CBP DHC-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft detected a suspicious vessel traveling southbound without navigation lights approximately 40 nautical miles off the coast of Dorado, Puerto Rico. Upon discovery, CBP coordinated the vessel’s location with a CBP Marine Interceptor Unit and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter vessel to intercept.
First contact was initiated by the CBP Marine Interceptor Unit, who engaged the suspicious vessel with blue lights, sirens, and a series of verbal commands. Instead of complying with the orders, the suspect vessel attempted to speed away traveling approximately 30-35 knots.
After firing two warning shots, the CBP Marine Interceptor Unit fired six disabling rounds into the suspect vessel’s engines and prevented the vessel from escaping. Two individuals were arrested onboard, while the two other passengers were apprehended after they jumped overboard during the pursuit.
Aboard the vessel were 48 bales containing 1,449 bricks of cocaine, a Glock 9mm pistol and 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition. The approximate street value of the cocaine was $48 million.
All suspects face charges of cocaine trafficking and prison terms from 10 years to life. Their case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos R. Cardona.
“At the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch we work with our partners to make full use of our integrated air and marine interdiction capabilities,” CBP’s Caribbean Director of Air Operations Johnny Morales said. “Air and Marine Operations is always vigilant of the Caribbean waters to detect and intercept smuggling attempts such as this one.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of the nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry.