US Coast Guard helps seize US$30 million in cocaine in waters off Puerto Rico

Photo: USCG District 7 PADET San Juan
Photo: USCG District 7 PADET San Juan

US Coast Guard (USCG) and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities seized 1,054 kilograms of cocaine, worth an estimated US$30 million, following the interdiction of a go-fast vessel Saturday, October 13, off Luquillo, Puerto Rico.

This interdiction is the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the CBIG.

While on a routine patrol of the area, the crew of the 46.93-metre Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley detected a suspicious go-fast vessel at 01:16 on Saturday transiting without navigational lights and with three people onboard, approximately nine nautical miles off the coast of Luquillo, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan alerted CBIG partner agencies of the developing situation, while Donald Horsley remained in hot pursuit of the go-fast with the assistance of unit’s Over the Horizon IV cutter boat.

Upon detecting the Coast Guard’s presence, the crew of the go-fast proceeded to attempt to flee the area at high speed with Donald Horsley’s cutter boat remaining in hot pursuit. During the pursuit, the Donald Horsley crew observed the suspected smugglers jettison numerous bales of their cargo overboard. Shortly thereafter, the go-fast made landfall near La Pared Beach in Luquillo, where the smugglers fled the area and abandoned the go-fast with the remaining cargo onboard.

Following the pursuit, Donald Horsley combined efforts with responding US Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) marine units, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) land teams, which located and recovered 47 bales from the water and the abandoned go-fast.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft also assisted in the search for the jettisoned cargo. The recovered cargo tested positive for cocaine.

The seized contraband is in the custody of ICE-HSI, which is leading the investigation into this case.

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