United States Flag
Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Report Crimes: Email or Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE

Contraband
06/29/2009

Caribbean Corridor Strike Force seizes $6 million in cash, arrests 4 Colombians

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, working jointly with other federal officers assigned to the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), arrested here today four Colombians and seized $6 million in cash.

As a result of the joint investigative efforts by CCSF participants, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane launched a helicopter to further investigate a go-fast vessel departing Panama. Because of the go-fast's failure to heave, USCG personnel proceeded to disable the vessel by using warning shots and disabling fire.

The crew of the USCG helicopter was able to observe the crewmembers of the go-fast boat throwing multiple bails into the water, which were later recovered revealing approximately $6 million in cash.

The four-member Colombian crew of the go-fast vessel, including Robert Hotivo, 43; Arnaldo Henao-Serna, 50; Manuel Carrascal-Reales, 48; Abraham Carrascal-Carrascal, 31, was escorted to the USCG base in San Juan, P.R., where CCSF agents arrested them for failure to heave as instructed. ICE agents seized the approximately $6 million for further investigation.

"ICE is committed to continue working with CCSF participants in an effort to stop the movement of contraband in the Caribbean," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, acting special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Juan. "Those who think that the Caribbean is an easy route to move contraband to the United States are seriously mistaken."

The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force investigates 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 initiative is composed ICE, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Coast Guard.