SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) officers, seized 146 kilograms of cocaine and eight kilograms of heroin Friday with an approximate street value of $4 million. Six individuals were arrested in connection with the seizure, which occurred about 17 miles north of Dorado, Puerto Rico.
At approximately 10:40 p.m. Thursday, a marine patrol aircraft assigned to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agent, detected a suspicious vessel traveling eastbound toward Puerto Rico with six persons on board.
The crew of the patrol aircraft gave vectors to a U.S. Coast Guard marine unit and a CBP helicopter, which lighted the suspicious vessel and intercepted it without incident. Prior to the interception, the crew of the vessel was observed throwing bales overboard.
PRPD's United Forces for Rapid Action officers recovered six bales containing 146 kilograms of cocaine and eight kilograms of heroin from the water.
Those arrested are in federal custody and will have their initial appearance in court Monday.
"HSI will continue working with our CCSF partners to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try to smuggle or transport illegal contraband into or outside our area of jurisdiction," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "This seizure demonstrates what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies work together with vigilance and a commitment to enforce our nation's customs laws."
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 (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates 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, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, the Coast Guard, CBP and PRPD's Unified Forces for Rapid Action.