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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon offloaded 11 bales containing approximately 992 pounds of cocaine and transferred custody of two Puerto Rican smugglers to Drug Enforcement Administration special agents at Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 31.
Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities, working in support of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), arrested the two smugglers and seized the illegal drug shipment in waters south of Vieques, Puerto Rico July 29.
The drug shipment was estimated to have a street value of over $9 million dollars.
“This is the seventh major drug bust since the end of May that the Coast Guard has been involved in and is a result of the close coordination between all law enforcement agencies in the region,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. “Interagency outcomes like this are making a difference in keeping drugs off the streets and putting criminals in jail where they belong.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on a routine patrol on board a CBP DCH-8 marine surveillance aircraft detected two men aboard a suspicious 30-foot white-hull fiberglass boat with two outboard engines July 29 transiting towards Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received notification from a CBP agent of the ongoing situation and proceeded to divert a Coast Guard Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement, on patrol in waters east of Puerto Rico, to interdict the suspect vessel.
The crew of the Coast Guard response boat located and interdicted the suspect vessel. The Coast Guard Cutter Farallon arrived on scene shortly thereafter and the cutter’s crew embarked the two suspected smugglers and searched the interdicted vessel as it was taking on water and started to sink. Coast Guard boarding team members were able to locate and offload 11 bales of the suspected contraband before the vessel completed sinking.
A field test conducted by Farallon crewmembers on the contents of the shipment revealed the contraband to be cocaine.
The Farallon transferred custody of the two Puerto Rican smugglers and the seized contraband to awaiting Drug Enforcement Administration special agents at Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico July 31.
“These arrests and multi-kilogram seizure are a clear indication of the success of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Initiative,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will continue maximizing all of out combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who try to smuggle illegal contraband into our jurisdiction.”
The Farralon is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Office of Border Patrol – Ramey Sector, the United States Attorney‘s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
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, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, the Coast Guard, CBP and PRPD's Joint Forces for Rapid Action.