US$10 million drug bust in Caribbean waters, Dominican Republic nationals arrested

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(CMC) – The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says its Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and the US Coast Guard recently interdicted a “yola” type wooden vessel transporting 816 pounds (370 kilogrammes) of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea and apprehended three Dominican Republic nationals.

CBP said the suspected drug smugglers were attempting to enter near Arecibo, Puerto Rico.  

The estimated value of the seized narcotics is US$10 million.

“Transnational criminal organisations attempt to smuggle narcotics in different locations throughout our island testing our resolve,” said Johnny Morales, director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch. 

“Our agents continue to use advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect and interdict them throughout our coastal borders,” he added. 

CBP said that on the evening of November 23, AMO launched from the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch in order to conduct a Border Security Patrol.

The Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) crew detected the vessel that was without navigational lights. 

It said MPA crew maintained surveillance, contacting US Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and a US Coast Guard small interceptor to intercept.

“This successful interdiction is the result of the hard work and dedication of the all the federal and state partners committed to eliminate illicit trafficking from the waters of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands,” said Captain Jose E. Diaz, deputy commander.  “Keeping dangerous drugs off the streets save lives.”

As the US Coast Guard assets approached the vessel, two men jumped into the water in order to evade arrest.

The Coast Guard stopped the vessel with one man on board, and found 13 bales of narcotics and one firearm. The two individuals were retrieved from the water.

The US Coast Guard later “transported the contraband and the arrested individuals to Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) agents took custody for prosecution and investigation.”