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Coast Guard Rescues 10 Haitian Migrants From Boat Off Mona and Monito Islands

SAN JUAN — Coast Guard cutters and helicopters crews continued to search for possible migrants in the water Friday, following the rescue of 10 Haitian migrants Wednesday from a disabled vessel near Mona and Monito Islands, Puerto Rico.

At this time, search efforts have revealed no signs of people in the water.

Coast Guard watchstanders received a VHF marine radio communication on Channel-16 at 3:28 p.m. Wednesday from the fishing vessel Jerimar, reporting the sighting of a possible migrant vessel two nautical miles north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.  Watchstanders at Sector San Juan directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless to search.

Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard aircrew located the migrant vessel disabled and adrift, and vectored-in the Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless to its position.  The crew of the Dauntless safely embarked 10 migrants from the disabled vessel, one man and nine women.  The migrants, who were tired, fatigued and cold, from voyage, reported their vessel became disabled after striking the rocks in the area near Mona Island.  Following the allision with the rocks, eight of the migrants and the smuggler reportedly jumped from the vessel and tried to swim to shore.   The survivors also reported that two other migrants, wearing heavy clothes, fell from the vessel and could not swim.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

Coast Guard crews are working with local authorities and the U.S. Border Patrol to investigate if any of the migrants from this case safely reached shore on Mona or Monito Islands.

Coast Guard assets involved in the search are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle
  • MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Borinquen

The Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Pensacola, Fla., while the cutter Joseph Doyle is a fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant Holds Change of Command Ceremony In Florida

PORT CANAVERAL — The crew of the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant conducted a formal change of command ceremony in Florida this week.

During the Thursday ceremony, Cmdr. Jay Guyer relieved Cmdr. Fred Bertsch of the duties of commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant. 

Bertsch served as Vigilant’s commanding officer since 2019 and led the crew through six patrols. Under Bertsch’s leadership, Vigilant interdicted 10 drug smuggling vessels seizing over 30,952 kilograms of cocaine and detaining 30 suspected smugglers. Additionally, the Vigilant crew rescued six mariners in distress and assisted 19 more during the two-year span.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that formally symbolizes the continuity of authority as command is passed from one individual to another in an observance conducted before the ship’s company. The change of command, as traditionally practiced within the Coast Guard today, is a total transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.

“Together, the crew has accomplished a great deal and persevered through a difficult time,” said Bertsch. “It has truly been because of the hard work, dedication and commitment of the crew that we have been successful.”

Bertsch, a 2001 graduate from the  Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, departs the Vigilant to serve as a Coast Guard Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University for the upcoming academic year. During the ceremony, the roles and responsibilities of the commanding officer were transferred to Guyer. Guyer, a permanent cutterman with over nine years of sea service, reported to the Vigilant from the Commandant’s office where he worked as the press assistant to the Commandant. 

The Vigilant, a medium-endurance cutter homeported in Cape Canaveral, Florida, patrols throughout the Caribbean and Pacific seaboard, ensuring safety of life at sea and enforcing international and domestic laws by conducting U.S. Coast Guard missions. The Vigilant’s primary missions include illegal drug interdiction, alien migrant interdiction and search and rescue.

The Vigilant is the twelfth cutter to bear the name, dating back to 1790 when the original Vigilant was built for the Revenue Cutter Service. 

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Coast Guard Collects 38 Illegal Migrants In Mona Passage, Takes Them Back To DR

SAN JUAN — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos repatriated 38 migrants to the Dominican Republic Friday, following the interdiction of an illegal voyage Thursday in Mona Passage waters near Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

The interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts by Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies to combat illegal migrant smuggling.

The aircrew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft detected the illegal voyage Friday morning, approximately 15 nautical miles northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.   The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos responded to the sighting and interdicted the 35-foot vessel with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat.  The cutter’s crew safely embarked the migrants from the makeshift vessel that was grossly overloaded vessel and taking on water.  A Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit also responded and arrived on scene to assist.

Prior to embarking cutter Joseph Tezanos, the crew provided the migrants with lifejackets.  Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, the migrants receive food, water and basic medical attention.

“The strong partnerships, collaboration and efficient coordination between the Coast Guard and our CBIG and Dominican Republic navy partners helped save the lives of all the migrants in this case and ensured their safe return to the Dominican Republic,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, Commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan.   “To anyone considering taking part in an illegal voyage, don’t take to the sea!  These voyages are extremely dangerous, the vessels are unseaworthy and most often grossly overloaded. Additionally, they have no lifesaving equipment and the conditions onboard are inhumane.” 

Cutter Joseph Tezanos later rendezvoused with a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, where the crew transferred and completed the repatriation of the migrants to Dominican Republic Navy authorities.

Cutter Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

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Coast Guard Returns 13 Illegal Migrants Back To The Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser crew repatriated 13 of 14 migrants to the Dominican Republic, following the interdiction of a migrant vessel just off the coast of Rincon, Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard 7th District said in a May 12 release. 

The migrant group consisting of 13 males, including a 16-year-old minor, and a pregnant woman, claimed being Dominican Republic nationals.  

One of the interdicted migrants remains in Puerto Rico to face possible federal prosecution on charges of attempted illegal re-entry into the United States.  

The interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts by Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies to combat illegal migrant smuggling. 

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a call from a U.S. Border Patrol agent at 3:39 a.m. May 9 reporting a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit had intercepted a migrant vessel, approximately three nautical miles off the island’s west coast. During the interdiction, two of the migrants jumped into the water and attempted to swim to shore. 

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen launched to search for the two migrants in the water. Once on scene, the Coast Guard aircrew spotted the two men struggling to stay afloat and vectored in the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser’s cutter boat to their position. The Coast Guard boat crew safely recovered the two men, who were embarked, along with the other migrants, aboard the cutter Winslow Griesser. 

Prior to embarking, the Winslow Griesser crew provided the migrants with lifejackets. Once aboard the cutter, they received food, water and basic medical attention. 

“I commend the responding units in this case,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response. “Their efforts helped save two lives from drowning and ensured the safe return of 13 of the migrants to the Dominican Republic. We call out to anyone considering taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage that you not take to the sea. The perils are quite real, and your life and the lives of everyone else in the voyage will be in great danger.” 

The crew of the cutter Winslow Griesser transferred 12 adult migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel May 10 and repatriated the minor to Dominican Republic authorities in Santo Domingo Tuesday morning. 

Cutter Winslow Griesser is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

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Coast Guard Returns 58 Illegals To Dominican Republic After Plucking Them Off Makeshift Boats

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard repatriated 58 migrants to the Dominican Republic Sunday, following the interdiction of two illegal voyages in Mona Passage waters between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The interdicted migrants claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals.

The interdictions are the result of ongoing efforts by Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies to combat illegal migrant smuggling.

“These illegal voyages are the most deadly means of conveyance,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response.  “They are dangerous and mostly involve makeshift, grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessels.  These vessels continuously flood and have the potential to capsize at any given time. To those considering taking part in an illegal voyage, do not take to the sea! You are putting your life at risk as well as the life of everyone else.”

Coast Guard Returns 58 Illegals To Dominican Republic After Plucking Them Off Makeshift Boats

The aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection marine patrol aircraft detected the first illegal voyage Saturday morning.  The CBP aircrew spotted a grossly overloaded 30-foot makeshift vessel 49 nautical miles west of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to interdict the suspect vessel. Shortly thereafter, the cutter Joseph Tezanos arrived on scene and stopped the migrant vessel with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat.  The crew of the cutter Joseph Tezanos safely embarked 34 migrants, 32 men and two women.

The second interdiction occurred Saturday afternoon, after the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine patrol aircraft detected a suspect illegal voyage, in waters northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the cutter Joseph Tezanos to interdict the suspect vessel.  Once on scene, the cutter Joseph Tezanos interdicted a 25-foot grossly overloaded makeshift boat and safely embarked the 24 migrants, 20 men and four women, who were aboard.

Coast Guard Returns 58 Illegals To Dominican Republic After Plucking Them Off Makeshift Boats


In each case, the crew of the cutter Joseph Tezanos had to provide lifejackets/personal flotation devices to the migrants.  Once they were safely aboard the cutter, the migrants also received food, water and basic medical attention.

The cutter Joseph Tezanos later rendezvoused with and transferred the migrants to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel in waters just off the Dominican Republic completing their repatriation.

CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action, in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — La Guardia Costera de EE. UU. repatrió a 58 migrantes a la República Domnicana el domingo, luego de interceptar dos viajes ilegales en las aguas del Canal de la Mona entre al República Dominicana y Puerto Rico. 

Los migrantes interceptados afirmaron ser ciudanos de la República Dominicana.

Las interdicciones son el resultado de los esfuerzos en curso de las agencias asociadas del Grupo Interagencial de la Frontera Caribeña, conocido como CBIG por sus siglas en inglés, para combatir el tráfico ilegal de migrantes.

“Estos viajes ilegales son el medio de transporte más mortífero”, dijo el Comandante Beau Powers, Jefe de Respuesta de la Guardia Costera para el Sector San Juan. “Son peligrosos y en su mayoría involucran embarcaciones improvisadas, sumamente sobrecargadas y no aptas para navegar. Estas embarcaciones se inundan continuamente y tienen pueden zozobrar en cualquier momento. Para aquellos que estén considerando participar de un viaje ilegal, ¡no salgan a la mar! Usted está poniendo su vida en riesgo, así como la vida de todos los demás personas abordo”.

La tripulación de un avión de vigilancia marítima del Negociado de Aduana y Protección Fronteriza de los EE. UU. detectó el primer viaje ilegal el sábado por la mañana. La tripulación aérea de CBP avistó una embarcación improvisada sobrecargada, de unos 30 pies, a  49 millas náuticas al oeste de Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Los vigilantes de la Guardia Costera coordinaron el despegue de un helicóptero MH-65 Dolphin desde la Estación Aérea de Borinquen y desviaron al buque Guardacostas Joseph Tezanos para interceptar la embarcación sospechosa. Poco después, el Joseph Tezanos llegó al lugar y detuvo la embarcación. La tripulación del buque Joseph Tezanos embarcó de manera segura a los 34 migrantes, 32 hombres y dos mujeres.

La segunda interdicción ocurrió el sábado por la tarde, luego de que la tripulación de una avión de vigilancia marítima del Negociado de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de los EE. UU. detectó un viaje ilegal sospechoso, en aguas al noreste de Punta Cana, República Dominicana. Una vez más, el buque Joseph Tezanos respondió al llamado para interceptar la embarcación sospechosa. Una vez en la escena, el buque Joseph Tezanos detuvo a la embarcación de 25 pies, tipo yola, que iba sobrecargada con 24 migrantes, 20 hombres y cuatro mujeres, que fueron subidos a bordo del buque Guardacosta.

En ambos casos, los migrantes recibieron chalecos salvavidas. Una vez a bordo del Joseph Tezanos, también recibieron comida, agua, refugio y atención médica básica.

Posteriormente, el buque Joseph Tezanos completó la repatriación de los migrantes al trasladarlos a un buque de la Armada Dominicana en aguas de la República Dominicana.

CBIG unifica esfuerzos entre el Negociado de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de los Estados Unidos, la Guardia Costera de los Estados Unidos, el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de los Estados Unidos, la Oficina del Fiscal de los Estados Unidos para el Distrito de Puerto Rico y las Fuerzas Unidas de Rápida Acción de la Policía de Puerto Rico, en su objetivo común por asegurar la frontera de Puerto Rico contra la inmigración ilegal y el tráfico de drogas.

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U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Drowning Man At ‘Bishop’s Pool’ In Arecibo

SAN JUAN — The crews of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescued a person from drowning at “La Poza del Obispo” Friday afternoon in Arecibo.

A man in his 30’s was rescued. He sustained severe leg injuries while struggling to stay afloat and being washed on the rocks by the crashing waves at “La Poza del Obispo” (Bishop’s pool) in Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a call from 911 Emergency Service Operator reporting the distress. 

Watchstanders proceeded to divert the Coast Guard helicopter that was conducting a training familiarization flight nearby. 

The helicopter crew located the man with the assistance of people on shore, who directed them towards his location.

U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Drowning Man At 'Bishop's Pool' In Arecibo

“This was an extremely delicate case,” said Lt. Adam Morehouse, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircraft commander for the rescue.  “Recognizing the severity of the situation and knowing the man had seconds to live, the crew deployed the rescue basket to attempt to save the drowning swimmer.  After two attempts to grab the basket, in the heavy rotor wash, and with the helo at a critical fuel state with seconds left to hover, the man in one final attempt grabbed and rolled himself into the basket.”

The aircrew hoisted the man safely aboard the helicopter and flew him to Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where Emergency Medical Service personnel received and transported him to a local hospital to receive further medical care. 

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/767684/coast-guard-rescues-man-drowning-la-poza-del-obispo-arecibo-puerto-rico

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U.S. COAST GUARD: ‘We Have Disrupted The Flow Of Drugs To Puerto Rico And The U.S. Virgin Islands’

SANTO DOMINGO — The U.S. Coast Guard says it seized nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of at least $3.5 million, during an exercise near the Dominican Republic.

It said six smugglers had been detained in Puerto Rico pending further court action.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this crew,” said Captain Mark Gordon, commanding officer of the USCG cutter Alexander Hamilton. “Even more important than the drugs they kept from reaching our borders, this crew prevented the criminal organizations from using the illicit proceeds from these drugs to further their criminal enterprises and sow violence and corruption wherever they operate.”

As part of its Western Hemisphere strategy, the U.S. Coast Guard said it has increased its presence in the transit corridors of the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

“These routes are vital to the transnational criminal organizations that use them to move drugs to our borders and profit from the movement and sale of illicit goods,” the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Last weekend, the crew of the cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118) offloaded 2,513 pounds of cocaine and transferred custody of three suspected smugglers to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

U.S. Coast Guard, DEA and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities seized the $28.5-million cocaine shipment and apprehended three men of Dominican Republic nationality, following the interdiction of a 30-foot go-fast vessel in waters north of Loiza, Puerto Rico.

This interdiction was the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard, the CBIG and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

“This seizure highlights how effectively the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and Caribbean Corridor Strike Force work together to disrupt the flow of illicit drugs into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mario Gil.

“We take great pride in knowing that our collective efforts led to this significant victory in combating these transnational criminal organisations who attempt to flood our streets with crime and instability,” he added.

The 7th District is responsible for U.S. Coast Guard activities throughout a 1.7 million-square-mile area including Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and 34 foreign nations and territories.

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Four Guyanese Men Who Brought 8,309 Pounds Of Cocaine To Region Get Sentences of 2 to 4 Years

CHRISTIANSTED – Four Guyanese nationals got sentences ranging from two years to four years for bringing 8,309 pounds of cocaine to the region by sea vessel.

Neville Jeffrey, 70, Mohamed Hoseain, 66, Richard La Cruz, 51, and Mark Anthony Williams, 32, all of Guyana, were sentenced to 48 months, 36 months, 30 months and 27 months respectively for possession of cocaine on board a vessel, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said today.

U.S. District Court Judge Wilma Lewis also sentenced each man to two years of supervised release, but ordered that they be deported upon release from incarceration.

Judge Lewis further ordered them to pay a special assessment of $100.00 each and did not impose a fine.

Jeffrey, Hoseain, La Cruz and Williams pleaded guilty to cocaine possession charges in November and December of 2018.

According to plea agreements filed with the court and statements at the sentencing hearing, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Napier, on February 16, 2017, intercepted a suspicious vessel in a joint operation with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard approximately seventy nautical miles north of Paramaribo, Suriname, in international waters.

The vessel, later identified as the LADY MICHELLE, was located in a known drug trafficking route and registered with St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel pursuant to a bilateral agreement between the United States and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

They discovered 185 bales containing numerous rectangular shaped packages of cocaine in the vessel’s fish hold weighing 3,769 kilograms.

The drugs had a street value in the U.S. Virgin Islands of approximately 71 million dollars. Jeffrey and Hoseain functioned as captains.

La Cruz was identified as the engineer and Williams as the cook.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews, Jr.

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Dominican Republic Man Faces 10 Years For Bringing 2,204 Pounds of Cocaine Here

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A native of the Dominican Republic admitted in federal court to bringing at least 2,204 pounds of cocaine to the territory by boat.

Dany Perez-Brito, 44, of Santo Domingo, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to court documents, a United States Coast Guard (USCG) aircraft detected a go-fast style vessel with no indicia of nationality located about 65 nautical miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After being detected, the go-fast vessel led authorities on a ten-hour chase in international waters between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

USCG personnel were able to board the vessel when it finally went dead in the water approximately 96 nautical miles north of St. Thomas.

Upon boarding the vessel, authorities discovered 52 bales containing a total of approximately 1,132 kilograms of a white powdery substance that field tested positive for cocaine.

In court, Perez-Brito admitted to having conspired to transport the cocaine by boat from Venezuela to Puerto Rico, for which he expected to be paid $200,000.

Perez-Brito faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, a five-year term of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10,000,000.

This case was being investigated by the USCG, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Meredith Edwards.

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Seven Venezuelans Get 1.75 Years In Prison And Ticket Home For Bringing 357 Pounds of Marijuana Here

CHRISTIANSTED – Seven Venezuelan men were given sentences of 1.75 years in prison for bringing 357 pounds of marijuana to the region.

Felix Gomez, 38, Roman Jose Aguilera Gig, 39, Jesus Garcia, 35, Jhoan Gomez, 29, Rosauro Morao, 46, Manual Rodriguez, 52, and Juan Rodriguez, 26, all Venezuelan nationals were sentenced today for being convicted of one count of possession of a controlled substance on board a vessel, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

Visiting U.S. District Court Judge Anne E. Thompson gave each man a term of imprisonment of twenty-one (21) months and twenty-one (21) days, with credit for time served, according to Shappert.

The men have been incarcerated since their May 8, 2017 arrest.

Each was ordered deported to their native country of Venezuela, and each was ordered to pay a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00.

According to court documents, on May 8, 2017 at approximately 3:45 p.m., a patrol aircraft affiliated with the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South, located a northbound go-fast vessel (GFV) approximately 105 nautical miles west of Martinique traveling at a speed of 25 knots.

The GFV was travelling on a known drug trafficking route. The vessel had five outboard engines, multiple fuel barrels, and suspicious packages visible on deck. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley was directed to intercept the GFV.

As the Donald Horsely approached, members of the GFV crew tossed suspicious packages and fuel barrels overboard. Ultimately, the crew of the Cutter Donald Horsley recovered 8 bound packages, which contained approximately 162 kilograms (357 pounds) of marijuana.

The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter, stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Huston and Melissa Ortiz.