SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with members of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), arrested three Dominican Republic nationals for drug trafficking and seized 1,517 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $24 million earlier this week off the southern coast of Puerto Rico.
On June 11, the crew of a patrolling Coast Guard aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast vessel with three men onboard at approximately 105 nautical miles southeast of Ponce. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft joined in the surveillance as Coast Guard officers diverted a cutter to interdict the suspect vessel. A patrol vessel from the Royal Netherlands Navy was in the area with a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment onboard and also responded upon being alerted.
The Royal Netherlands Navy patrol vessel arrived on scene and launched their high-speed pursuit boats to interdict the go-fast. Upon being detected, the suspected smugglers began to flee the area at a high rate of speed and threw multiple bales of suspected contraband overboard. Eventually, the drug smugglers came to a full stop, and Coast Guard officers proceeded to board the vessel and detained the three men onboard. As a result, a total of 20 bales of cocaine were seized with an approximate weight of 1,517 pounds.
Those arrested were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo to await the outcome of their case.
CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney's Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that investigate South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Coast Guard, CBP and Puerto Rico Police Department's United Forces for Rapid Action.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.