SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested two Dominican Republic citizens and seized 56 kilograms of cocaine on Thursday during an operation that resulted in the sinking of the smuggling boat. This is the fourth cocaine seizure made by ICE in less than a month for a total of 1,775 kilograms.
Near midnight, the crew of the CBP Caribbean Air & Marine Branch (CAMB) DHC-8 aircraft detected a vessel traveling east without navigational lights towards Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, in the southwest coast of the island.
The aircraft notified a CBP Mayaguez Marine Unit Interceptor with the position of the suspect vessel.
Upon initial contact with the operator and crewmember of the vessel, the smuggling boat failed to heave and continued heading towards Puerto Rico, while performing erratic evasive maneuvers, and it began to jettison gasoline containers, as well as what appeared to be bales, overboard.
As the suspect vessel collided with the CBP Interceptor, the two individuals in the vessel dumped a gas container overboard and jumped into the water.
The CBP unit rescued and detained the two individuals and recovered three bales from the waters, finding inside 47 bricks of suspected contraband, which later tested positive to cocaine.
The 47 bricks of cocaine weighed 56.1 kilograms (123.68 pounds) and have an approximate street value of $1.4 million.
The individuals, who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, as well as the contraband, were transferred to ICE HSI for further investigation.
The two individuals arrested had their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos Lopez on Thursday.