CG Nabs Drug Smugglers, Seizes Cocaine

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities, arrested two Dominican smugglers, seized approximately 170 pounds of cocaine and repatriated 20 Cuban migrants to the Dominican Republic, following multiple at-sea interdictions in the Mona Passage Aug. 16 and Aug. 17.

Coast Guard, CBIG and Drug Enforcement Administration law enforcement authorities arrested two Dominican drug smugglers and seized 170 pounds of cocaine during an at-sea interdiction in the Mona Passage during the afternoon of Aug. 16.

The seized contraband and detainees were transferred to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents in Puerto Rico for further processing and investigation, while the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico will be in charge of prosecuting the case.

The crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected two men aboard a suspicious 25-foot wooden yola (boat) during a law enforcement patrol, approximately 37 nautical miles south of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The suspected smugglers proceeded to flee the scene and began to throw overboard what appeared to be four bales of suspected contraband after they noticed the presence of law enforcement authorities in the area.

The Coast Guard Cutters Cushing and Campbell and a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, as well as, multiple Customs and Border Protection marine units and a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter responded to interdict the suspect vessel and recover the suspected contraband from the water.

The crew of the Cushing interdicted the suspect vessel and detained the two suspected smugglers, while the Customs and Border Protection marine units and helicopter crew were able to locate and recover four bales of the suspected contraband from the water. 

Further testing revealed the contraband shipment to be cocaine and was estimated to have a street value of over $2 million dollars.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing was also involved in the repatriation of 20 Cuban migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic on the afternoon of Aug. 18, following an at-sea interdiction by Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities Aug. 17 off the southwestern coast of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders were contacted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) agents Aug. 17, who reported that agents aboard a CBP maritime surveillance aircraft had located a migrant vessel approximately six nautical miles off the southwestern coast of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing to interdict the migrant vessel. The Cushing arrived on scene and intercepted the vessel with 15 Cuban men and five women onboard. During the interdiction, the ruthless smuggler aggressively maneuvered the boat causing it to capsize.  Coast Guard and Good Samaritans on scene responded rapidly saving all 20 migrants who were then embarked aboard the Cushing.

The crew of the Cushing repatriated the Cuban migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic, where they were transferred to the custody of awaiting Dominican Republic Navy authorities.

The Coast Guard Cutters Cushing and Campbell are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Kittery, Maine respectively, while the Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft is stationed in Miami.

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.

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