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Contraband
03/11/2008

ICE seizes more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $11 million

CEIBA, Puerto Rico - Two men were arrested here Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for allegedly attempting to illegally import into the United States 456 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of more than $11 million.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) air and marine enforcement officers detected Juan Antonio Avila Garcia, 48, and Ricardo Hernandez Piñeiro, 32, as they were suspiciously navigating in a 28-foot vessel five nautical miles off the coast of Ceiba, Puerto Rico.

ICE agents were called to the scene where they seized the contraband and arrested the two men for violations to Title 21, United States Code (USC), Section 841.

"The seizure of this contraband and the arrest of these two men is proof that ICE and our Department of Homeland Security partners will not tolerate this flagrant violation of law in our area of jurisdiction," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, acting special agent-in-charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "Those who think that Puerto Rico is an easy route to illegally import drugs into the United States should know that we will continue using all our resources to detect and arrest you."

Avila Garcia and Hernandez Piñeiro are in federal custody at the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention center awaiting the outcome of their case.

The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is not evidence of any guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial. The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.