Aerial photo of drug smugglers’ boat with contraband on board taken by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch Dash-8 aircraft.
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) law enforcement officers arrested two suspected Dominican smugglers Thursday, seizing 155 pounds of cocaine with a street value of approximately $1.6 million and a 20-foot boat (vola) following a multi-agency at-sea interdiction in the Mona Passage.
The crew of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) Dash-8 aircraft detected two men aboard a suspicious yola traveling toward Puerto Rico during a law enforcement patrol Thursday afternoon, approximately 30 nautical miles south of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan proceeded to notify and divert the crews of a Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan 33-foot response boat and the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to approach the suspect vessel.
Upon being detected by law enforcement authorities, the passengers onboard the suspect vessel proceeded to throw five bales overboard, of which three contained personal items and the other two contained 155 lbs. of suspected illegal contraband. The crew of the Boat Station San Juan response was able to recover all five bales from the water.
The crew of the Boat Station San Juan 33-foot response boat and the Key Largo continued to pursue the suspect vessel until it came to a full stop. The crew of the Key Largo embarked the smugglers along with the suspected contraband and took the seized vessel in tow. A field test conducted by the crew of the Key Largo revealed the suspected contraband to be cocaine.
The Key Largo rendezvoused with awaiting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico Thursday night, and transferred custody of the two Dominicans, the yola and the 155 lbs. of cocaine for further investigations.
Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat home-ported in San Juan.