SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC) — The United States Coast Guard says it has nabbed four suspected smugglers and seized 246 kilogrammes of cocaine following the interdiction of a drug smuggling go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea.
The estimated wholesale value of the seized shipment is more than US$6.8 million, the US Coast Guard said.
It said the interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of the Miami-based US Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force programme and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.
The US Coast Guard said the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution for this case.
“Successful outcomes as in this case are a testament to the strong relationships between the Coast Guard and participating partner agency units who share an unwavering resolve to stopping drug smuggling vessels at sea,” said Lt Andrew Russo, the commanding officer of the US Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez (WPC-1114).
“The crew of the Heriberto Hernandez is proud to help safeguard the Caribbean and our nation’s southernmost maritime border to protect our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands against this threat,” he added.
The US Coast Guard said the bust came after the aircrew of a US Customs and Border Protection Air Marine Operations aircraft detected a suspicious panga style 35-foot go-fast vessel near the Dominican Republic.
During the interdiction, the US Coast Guard said its boarding team seized eight bales of suspected contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.
“The crew of the cutter Heriberto Hernandez embarked four men from the go-fast, two Venezuelan, a Colombian and a Dominican Republic national, along with the seized contraband,” the US Coast Guard said.
It said the Cutter Venturous transported the suspected smugglers and contraband to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they were transferred to awaiting Caribbean Corridor Strike Force federal law enforcement agents.