AMO, Coast Guard Interdict Vessel with 816 Pounds of Cocaine Attempting to Reach Puerto Rico’s Northern Coast

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine Operations (AMO) and the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted Monday night a “yola” type wooden vessel transporting 816 pounds (370 Kilos) of cocaine, arresting three men from the Dominican Republic attempting to enter near Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The estimated value of the seized narcotics is $10 million.

“Transnational criminal organizations attempt to smuggle narcotics in different locations throughout our island testing our resolve,” stated 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.”

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) CBP) launched from the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) in order to conduct a Border Security Patrol. The MPA crew detected a “yola”type vessel heading south eastbound at approximately 13 knots without navigational lights.

The Marine Patrol Aircraft crew maintained surveillance contacting Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and a USCG 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 U.S. Virgin Islands,” stated CAPT Jose E. Diaz. “Keeping dangerous drugs off the streets save lives; today, Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and FURA crews saved lives.”

As the Coast Guard assets approached the vessel, two individuals jumped into the water in order to evade arrest. The Coast Guard stopped the vessel with one-man onboard finding 13 bales of narcotics and one firearm. The two individuals were retrieved from the water.

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

AMO safeguards our Nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation’s interior.

The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) is a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force group operating in the District of Puerto Rico focusing on Caribbean and South American-based Transnational Criminal Organizations involved in the maritime and air smuggling of shipments of narcotics to and from Puerto Rico and to the Continental U.S. and in the laundering of drug proceeds using bulk cash smuggling and sophisticated laundering activities.CCSF signatory agencies include the DEA, HSI, FBI, CGIS, USMS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.