U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and Coast Guard personnel recently thwarted an attempt to smuggle 2,513 pounds of cocaine valued at $28.5 million.
Authorities arrested three Dominican Republic aliens found operating the vessel. Bales of narcotics were found inside the craft and the suspected smugglers are facing likely federal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.
Authorities said the action stemmed from the crew of an Super King Air 350ER Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft from the Bellingham Air and Marine Branch observing a 20-foot twin-engine, open-hulled center console go fast watercraft navigating towards the town of Loiza in the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico.
CBP contacted USCG Sector San Juan who diverted cutter Joseph Tezanos to intercept the vessel near the delta of the Loiza river.
“We remain committed to work with other federal and local law enforcement partners to detect and deter smuggling attempts throughout the Caribbean,” Johnny Morales, director of CBP Air and Marine Operations in the Caribbean, said.
Officials said the interdiction is the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard, the Caribbean Interagency Group (CBIG) and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
AMO is a federal law enforcement organization comprised of 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.