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U.S. Coast Guard And BVI Customs Seize $1.7M Worth Of Cocaine Off Of Tortola


The cocaine as it appeared in hold of ship.

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, BVI – U.S. Coast Guard and British Virgin Islands law enforcement seized 52 kilos of cocaine, and detained two men, during an at-sea interdiction Tuesday near Tortola, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

The seized cocaine shipment by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Active was estimated to have a wholesale value of approximately $1.7 million.

The interdiction was a result of an ongoing joint multi-agency law enforcement effort to detect and deter illegal narcotics flow in the Caribbean.

While on a joint patrol, members of a Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) team accompanied by a Her Majesty’s Customs officer detected and interdicted a suspicious vessel near Tortola close to midnight Tuesday.

Following the interdiction, a total of 24 bricks of contraband were discovered and later tested positive for cocaine onboard the 32-foot recreational vessel. British Virgin Islands authorities took custody of the suspects, seized the vessel and contraband and referred the matter for prosecution in the British Virgin Islands.

“The strong working relationship between the U.S. Coast Guard and British Virgin Islands law enforcement led to a successful interdiction and seizure of illicit contraband,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan Commander. “The coordinated efforts for last night’s interdiction furthered our collective resolve to stem the flow of illicit smuggling operations between our nations.”

A Coast Guard MSST is a specialized force trained, equipped, and frequently employed to conduct operations locally, support maritime security missions worldwide, and rapidly deploy in response to emergent threats or the needs of the country.

“The two men and the go-fast boat they were in are presently in police custody. No charges have been laid,” Royal Virgin Islands Police (BVI) Information Officer Diane Drayton said, adding that an investigation are ongoing.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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