ICE, Caribbean Corridor Strike Force partners seize $60 million worth of cocaine, marijuana
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – During a period of one week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), seized $60 million worth of drugs and arrested nine individuals for drug trafficking.
From Aug. 23 to Aug. 30, HSI special agents and its CCSF counterparts seized 2,386 kilograms of cocaine and 1,010 kilograms of marijuana which represented one the largest seizures since the creation of the strike force.
On Aug. 30, CCSF special agents and officers seized 1,000 kilograms of cocaine in the municipality of Loiza, only two days after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detected a suspicious vessel about five nautical miles north of Quebradillas Aug. 28. The boat, occupied by two men, was described as a 20-foot-long yawl sailing without navigation lights. The boat approached the beach area of Puerto Hermina where several people were seen unloading what appeared to be contraband. Minutes later, CBP watched as the boat headed north, away from the coast. Maintaining constant vigilance, CBP alerted Puerto Rico Police Department’s (PRPD) marine units to intercept the boat. PRPD arrested its two occupants, Israelin Silvestre Garcia and Juan Jose Lantiguo Nuñez, both Dominican nationals. HSI agents, who arrived at the landing location, seized 308 kilograms of cocaine.
On Aug. 25, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a 26-foot vessel 90 nautical miles north of San Juan carrying approximately 1,078 kilograms of cocaine. Three Dominican nationals, Policarpio Feliz Suero, Delios Feliz Suero and Alkuimede Melcede, were arrested in connection with the seizure.
On Aug. 23, a routine patrol aircraft spotted a fast boat about 44 nautical miles northeast of Blanquilla, Venezuela, which gave the appearance of being adrift. The U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier to intercept the boat. After following international protocols, the boarding crew arrested four individuals and seized 1,010 kilograms of marijuana. Arrested individuals included: Michael Clark, Cedrick Walton, and David Mallard, all of Jamaica, and John Benn, of Antigua.
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 utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Puerto Rico Police Department’s Unified Forces for Rapid Action.