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Narcotics
09/26/2011

Cruise ship passengers arrested for attempting to transport cocaine

cocaine concealed in a backpack by cruise ship passengers
cocaine concealed in a backpack by cruise ship passengers
cocaine concealed in a backpack by cruise ship passengers
cocaine concealed in a backpack by cruise ship passengers

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Two U.S. citizens were arrested Sunday for attempting to transport cocaine concealed in a backpack through the San Juan seaport.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conducted a random inspection of "Carnival Victory" cruise ship passengers arriving from the West Indies. They arrested a passenger who was attempting to transport approximately 1694 grams of cocaine into the United States.

CBP arrested Carl Peterkin, 27, after finding the cocaine inside a backpack that he was carrying. His brother, Steven Peterkin, 23, was also arrested on conspiracy charges.

Both passengers and the narcotics were transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)'s San Juan Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) for further proceedings.

In response to a surge in cross border crime, ICE HSI has partnered with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement counterparts to create the BEST initiative, a series of multi-agency teams developed as a comprehensive approach to identifying, disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security.

The San Juan BEST team incorporates personnel from ICE HSI, CBP, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Puerto Rico Police Department, the San Juan Police Department, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and Hacienda, along with other key federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies.

The teams are designed to increase information sharing and collaboration among the agencies, combating this threat on both sides of the border. In select locations, BEST teams have been established at critical seaports to address smuggling and other criminal activity at maritime ports of entry.

ICE will continue to establish new BEST teams in areas where transnational criminal organizations exploit vulnerabilities along the nation's border and at critical seaports. These new teams will focus on all aspects of the enforcement process, from interdiction to prosecution and removal.

The goal of the expansion is to strengthen the program's ability to dismantle the leadership and supporting infrastructure of the criminal organizations responsible for perpetrating violence and illegal activity along our borders and in the nation's interior.

This ICE HSI investigation is ongoing.