CMC: SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The United States Coast Guard said on Friday that its cutter Reef Shark transferred custody of two smugglers and offloaded about 250 kilograms of cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan following the interdiction of a go-fast smuggling vessel in the Caribbean Sea.
The Coast Guard said the apprehended smugglers are from the Dominican Republic and they 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 about US$7.5 million.
The interdiction resulted from multi-agency efforts in support of the Miami-based US 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, the US Coast Guard said a US Maritime Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) detected a suspect go-fast vessel, about 145 nautical miles south of the Dominican Republic.
US Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the cutter Kathleen Moore to carry out the interdiction, the US Coast Guard said.
“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 US Coast Guard said.
“The crew did a great job working with interagency partners and Coast Guard watchstanders preventing this drug smuggling go-fast from making landfall,” said Lieutenant. 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,” he added.
The US Coast Guard said 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 US federal law enforcement agents from the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force received custody.
The US Coast Guard said the CCSF is an initiative of the US 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 US Coast Guard said.