The US Coast Guard patrol boat Reef Shark transferred custody of three suspected smugglers and an estimated US$6.6 million in seized cocaine to federal agents at Coast Guard Base San Juan on Friday, March 12, following the interdiction of a drug-smuggling vessel in the Mona Passage near Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
The suspected smugglers are males, Dominican Republic nationals, who now face criminal charges by Department of Justice prosecution partners in the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.
The interdiction resulted from multi-agency efforts in support of US Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
The bust occurred on the night (local time) of March 9, after the aircrew of a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch maritime patrol aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast vessel in international waters just off Mona Island.
The coast guard medium endurance cutter Valiant diverted in pursuit and, with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat, successfully interdicted the suspect go-fast vessel.
Following the interdiction, Valiant‘s boarding team and crew seized over 236 kilograms of cocaine.
Valiant‘s crew embarked the three men from the go-fast vessel and later transferred them, along with the seized contraband, to Reef Shark for transport and offload in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where CCSF federal agents received custody.
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