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Customs, Coast Guard Stop Go-Fast Boat with $12.8 Million Worth of Cocaine and $540K Worth of Heroin In-Route to PR

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PONCE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO)and the U.S. Coast Guard collaborated to intercept Saturday a go-fast vessel seizing 1,084 pounds (491.5kilos) of cocaine and 19 pounds (9 kilos) of heroin. The estimated value of the seized cocaine is $12.8 million and $540,000 for the heroin.

“AMO crews spend many hours patrolling the Caribbean region to discover smuggling ventures into US territory,” said Johnny Morales, Director of Air Operations. “We remain committed to work with other law enforcement partners to detect and deter these intrusions.”

On Apr. 14, AMO DHC- 8 Marine Patrol Aircraft crew observed a suspect vessel described as 25 feet in length, center console, twin engines with two occupants about 110 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico. The crew observed the suspect vessel receive fuel from another vessel in the vicinity.

Near 9:00 a.m., the vessel made contact with a different vessel and transferred several packages that appeared to be contraband. The AMO crew started tracking the vessel that received the packages as it continued to make a course towards the south part of Puerto Rico, contacting the USCG and the Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) for interception.

The AMO aircraft maintained contact with the 30-foot suspect vessel coordinating with USCG cutter Richard Dixon that intercepted the vessel approximately 80 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico.

USCG recovered 22 bales of contraband and took custody of 2 men, a U.S. Citizen from Puerto Rico and a Dominican Republic national, who are now in the custody of federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico, where they are facing potential prosecution.

The crew of the Richard Dixon later rendezvoused with and transferred the contraband and detainees to the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez for transport to Coast Guard Sector San Juan where U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Financial Investigative Team Special Agents in charge of the investigation took custody of the case.

AMO is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. 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.

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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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