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Contraband
01/27/2008

ICE seizes more than 900 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $11 million

Four Dominican nationals arrested after being intercepted by Coast Guard in a homemade boat

CABO ROJO, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents seized more than 900 pounds of cocaine with a street value of approximately $11 million here Friday and arrested four Dominican nationals for their alleged participation in the importation of the narcotics into the United States.

Cesar Hernandez de la Rosa, 38, Carlos Espinal Alamida, 25, Berinao Mercedes, 40, and Sotunino Tati, 44, were traveling from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico in a homemade boat, similar to those used to smuggle illegal aliens, when the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted their vessel.

ICE agents were subsequently called to the scene where they seized the contraband and arrested the four Dominican nationals for violations to Title 21, United States Code (USC), Sections 841, 952, and 963 and Title 18 USC, Section 545.

"Drug traffickers are the modern Pirates of the Caribbean," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, acting special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "Those who think that the Mona Passage is an easy route to import illegal contraband into the United States are mistaken. We will continue working with our local and federal partners to identify you and arrest you."

Hernandez de la Rosa, Espinal Alamida, Mercedes, and Tati, were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, where they remain awaiting the outcome of their cases.

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.