SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners arrested, arrested two suspected Dominican Republic smugglers Thursday. Law enforcement also seized a 20-foot yola (boat) and 155 pounds of cocaine, with an approximately street value of $1.6 million. The arrest followed a multi-agency at-sea interdiction in the Mona Passage.
The crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft detected two men aboard a suspicious yola traveling towards Puerto Rico during a law enforcement patrol Thursday afternoon, approximately 30 nautical miles southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard in Sector San Juan proceeded to notify and divert several assets to approach the suspect vessel.
Upon detection by DHS law enforcement authorities, the passengers onboard the suspect vessel proceeded to throw a total of five bales overboard, two of which contained electronic gear and the other three contained 60 bricks of a white powdery substance that field tested positive to cocaine. The crew of the Boat Station San Juan was able to recover all five bales from the water.
U.S. Coast Guard assets continued to pursue the suspect vessel until it came to a full stop at approximately 18 nautical miles south of Mona Island. The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo embarked the two Dominican nationals, along with the suspected contraband, and took in the seized vessel in tow.
ICE HSI special agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, took custody of the suspects, the yola, and the 60 bricks of cocaine for further investigation. A criminal complaint was filed Thursday charging the suspects with a narcotics trafficking offense.