Skip to main content

An official website of the United States government

March 21, 2018San Juan, PR, United StatesContraband

ICE, federal and local partners seize 1,441 kilograms of cocaine, arrest 1

Contraband has an estimated street value of more than $29 million

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) seized Tuesday 1,441 kilograms of cocaine in Vega Alta. The cocaine has an estimated street value of approximately $29 million.

On March 19, HSI Arecibo and CBP air units detected a 32-foot Century vessel north of Puerto Rico transporting what appeared to be bales of narcotics. HSI agents, with the assistance of PRPD’s air unit, responded to the area and witnessed when the vessel crew jumped out of the vessel and ran toward a wooded area followed by those part of the offload crew. HSI special agents secured and seized the vessel and the 1,289 bricks of cocaine weighing 1,441 kilograms. A Dominican Republic national was arrested in conjunction with the seizure.

“These enforcement actions show how HSI San Juan is proving to be a worst case scenario for criminal organizations attempting to smuggle dangerous contraband through Puerto Rico,” said Orlando Baez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “The success of the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) in combating drug-related crime and violence is the reason the Department of Homeland Security created the task force in Puerto Rico.”

The HSI investigation is ongoing. 

HSI agents enforce a wide range of criminal statutes including Title 18 and Title 19 of the U.S. Code. These statutes address general smuggling issues as well as customs violations. ICE also enforces Title 21, which covers the importation, distribution, manufacture and possession of illegal narcotics.

HSI agents have extensive knowledge of the border environment and techniques employed by smuggling organizations to transport contraband into the United States. This expertise has been gained through years of experience in conducting undercover operations, utilizing confidential informants, special enforcement operations and conducting contraband smuggling investigations.

The methods used by smuggling organizations are always changing and through continued training, the use of emerging technologies and dedication, ICE has maintained its expertise in disrupting and dismantling these criminal organizations.

Updated: 10/08/2020