During inbound inspections of passenger vehicles that arrived from the Dominican Republic onboard the M/V Caribbean Fantasy, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) K-9 alerted the potential presence of narcotics on board a Mazda B3000 pickup with Puerto Rico license plates. An X-ray of the vehicle confirmed the alert to BEST officers.
After a thorough search of the vehicle, CBP officers found 10 packages of cocaine with an approximate weight of 6.4 kilograms. The driver of the vehicle, Jose Eduardo Rodriguez-Gomez, 25, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was immediately placed under arrest.
The custody of the vehicle and narcotics was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents who arrested two additional individuals allegedly involved in the smuggling venture: Aida Perez Amador, 53, and Alejandro Pena-Guzman, 43, both of San Juan. Those arrested had their initial appearance Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Marcos.
"These arrests and seizures should send a message to those who think they can use our ports-of-entry to smuggle contraband from abroad," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "We will continue working with CBP, and all the members of San Juan's Border Enforcement Security Task Force to identify, arrest and prosecute drug smugglers."
"We have stepped up our inspection of cargo through a risk-management based, layered enforcement approach, closing routes for smugglers," said Marcelino Borges, CBP director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The San Juan BEST incorporates law enforcement and intelligence resources from HSI, CBP, Puerto Rico Police Department, Coast Guard, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, San Juan Police Department, Colombian National Police, Puerto Rico Ports Authority and Puerto Rico's Department of Treasury. These resources focus their investigative, interdiction and intelligence assets towards the identification, prioritization and investigation of emerging or existing threats related to our borders.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.