SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with other members of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), seized 1,000 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $72 million Wednesday south of Isla Saona, Dominican Republic.
"Through these arrests and seizures we are sending a clear message: Puerto Rico will not be a safe haven for criminals looking to ship drugs into Puerto Rico and the United States," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "ICE and its federal and local partners are committed to working together to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into Puerto Rico."
While on a routine patrol, Coast Guard Cutter Farallon personnel received information from CCSF regarding two suspicious go-fast boats at approximately 21 nautical miles south of Isla Saona and traveling towards Puerto Rico. As the Coast Guard cutter approached the two vessels, these fled the area at high speed towards the Dominican Republic while dumping several bales in the water. Coast Guard personnel recovered 37 bales containing a white powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine during a field drug test. The contraband was subsequently brought to the Coast Guard Base in San Juan. Although there were no arrests related to the seizure, the CCSF investigation continues.
CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney's Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Coast Guard, CBP and Puerto Rico Police Department's Joint Forces for Rapid Action.
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.