SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the Coast Guard and other Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) partners, seized 3,500 pounds of marijuana July 8 and arrested five individuals for conspiracy to possess a controlled substance on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
"HSI will continue working with our CCSF partners to investigate and prosecute those who, in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life, try to smuggle or transport illegal contraband into or outside our area of jurisdiction," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "This seizure demonstrates what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies work together with vigilance and a commitment to enforce our nation's customs laws."
While on patrol July 8, the Coast Guard Cutter Northland detected a suspicious 68-foot motor vessel transiting the Caribbean Sea with five crewmembers onboard.
The Northland crew seized the marijuana; detained the crew composed of Michael Dacosta, Shawn A. Ally, Nolan E. Connelly, Ron D. Griffith and Owen K. Drakes; and transferred the illegal drug shipment to CCSF special agents who will be leading a criminal investigation into the case.
If convicted, those arrested face a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
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 PRPD's Joint Forces for Rapid Action.