U.S. Customs agents seize $15M in smugglers’ cocaine on Caribbean Sea

The United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency says its agents and the Puerto Rico Police Department’s (PRPD) Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA) seized 1,326 pounds (601 kilos) of cocaine inside a vessel in the Caribbean Sea and arrested two suspected smugglers from the Dominican Republic.

The estimated value of the seized narcotics is US$15.6 million, CBP said last week.

“We work daily with our Stonegarden partner FURA to stop smuggling attempts in different locations throughout the island,” said Ramiro Cerrillo, Ramey Sector Chief Patrol Agent in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

CBP said a FURA marine unit encountered a twin-engine 28-foot Contender vessel operated by two men near Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. FURA requested assistance from Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents after stopping the vessel, CBP said.

It said Border Patrol and FURA agents searched the vessel, and found bales of suspected narcotics. The two men, who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, were arrested, CBP said.

Agency officials said special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) assumed custody of the contraband, the arrested the suspected smugglers and the vessel, worth US$70,000, for investigation and prosecution.

“We will not let down our guard. We won’t stop. We have been doing it and we will continue joining efforts and resources against drug trafficking in the Caribbean,” said Acting Special Agent In-Charge for the DEA, Reinaldo Lopez. “Expect to see more results like this on in the near future. Inter-agency efforts have been excellent and we’ll continue to achieve great results.”