DEA Seizes 1,056 Pounds of Cocaine and Arrests 3 Drug Smugglers in International Waters Near the Hispaniola
MAY 21 -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Jerome M. Harris, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Caribbean Division and the Rosa E. Rodriguez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced today the seizure of over ½ ton of cocaine and the arrest of three (3) suspected drug smugglers in international waters south of the Dominican Republic. The individuals arrested were: Epifanio Matos-Luchi, Ramon Carrasco-Carrasco and Manolo Soto, all citizens of the Dominican Republic. These arrests and seizure are the result of a multi-agency, multi-nation international effort under the Caribbean Corridor Initiative in Puerto Rico and DEA’s Operation Rum Punch in the Dominican Republic.
On May 12, 2007 the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) detected a suspicious air track with their Re-locatable Over the Horizon Radar (ROTHR) originating in South America, heading toward the Island of the Hispaniola. Immediately the JIATF-S coordinated an end-game response with the DEA Caribbean Division Santo Domingo Dominican Republic’s Operation Rum Punch assets based in the Dominican Republic and at the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air Unit in Aguadilla, PR and the Caribbean Corridor Initiative’s (CCI) DEA Seaport Task Force investigators in Puerto Rico. The CBP Air Unit launched a Customs High Endurance Tracker (CHET) aircraft to intercept the suspicious air track. The CHET intercepted and identified the air track as a twin-engine aircraft. The CHET crew observed and video recorded the twin-engine as it doped several bales to a waiting yola boat whose crew was retrieving the bales from the water.
Operation Rum Punch is a DEA Caribbean Division bi-national multi agency operation to provide end game-capability in the Island of The Hispaniola to disrupt and stop the illegal air drug smuggling bridge from South America. Operation Rum Punch brings together the Dominican Republic’s DNCD, the Haitian National Police’s Counter Drug Unit (BLTS), DEA, and CBP Air and Marine in a joint effort to interdict illegal flights bringing drugs into the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Caribbean Corridor Initiative is a federal multi-agency strike force focusing on the disruption of maritime drug-trafficking in the Caribbean, consists of members from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Investigative Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigations and the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico..