Coast Guard nabs 2 smugglers, seizes $7.5 million in cocaine following interdiction in Caribbean Sea
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark transferred custody of two smugglers and offloaded approximately 250 kilograms cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan Saturday, following Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore’s interdiction of a go-fast smuggling vessel in the Caribbean Sea.
The apprehended smugglers are Dominican Republic nationals, who were charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine aboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The cocaine seized has an estimated wholesale value of approximately $7.5 million dollars. U.S. Coast Guard Special Assistant United States Attorney Jordan H. Martin is in charge of the prosecution of this case.
The interdiction resulted from multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere and coordination with the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
During a routine patrol Wednesday, a U.S. Maritime Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) detected a suspect go-fast vessel, approximately 145 nautical miles south of the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the cutter Kathleen Moore to carry out the interdiction. With the assistance of the cutter’s small boat, the crew of the Kathleen Moore interdicted the 25-foot vessel that was carrying two men and 10 bales of suspected contraband onboard, which tested positive for cocaine.
“The crew did a great job working with interagency partners and Coast Guard watchstanders preventing this drug smuggling go-fast from making landfall,” said Lt. Andrew R. Collins, cutter Kathleen Moore commanding officer. “We are glad to help keep these drugs off the streets, and we will continue to work diligently with fellow Coast Guard units and our interagency partners to stop these drug-smuggling attempts in the high seas.”
The seized drugs and detainees were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez and then to the Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark for transport to Puerto Rico, where federal law enforcement agents from the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force received custody.
Cutters Kathleen Moore and Heriberto Hernandez are 154-foot fast response cutters respectively homeported in Key West, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cutter Reef Shark is an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Coast Guard, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Police Department’s (PRPD) Joint Forces for Rapid Action.
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