US Coast Guard transfers US$6.8 million in seized cocaine, four suspected smugglers to federal agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Photo: US Coast Guard/Ricardo Castrodad
Photo: US Coast Guard/Ricardo Castrodad

The crew of the US Coast Guard medium endurance cutter Venturous transferred custody of four suspected smugglers and 246 kilograms of seized cocaine to federal law enforcement authorities at Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, October 15.

The narcotics were seized during the interdiction of a drug-smuggling go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea earlier this month.

The estimated wholesale value of the seized drug shipment is more than US$6.8 million.

The interdiction occurred during the evening hours (local time) of October 5 and early morning hours of October 6, after the aircrew of a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air Marine Operations aircraft detected a suspicious panga-style go-fast vessel in Caribbean Sea waters near the Dominican Republic.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, which relieved the CBP aircraft and maintained aerial coverage of the go-fast throughout the interdiction.

The coast guard fast response cutter Heriberto Hernandez responded to the sighting and interdicted the go-fast vessel with the assistance of the cutter's small boat. During the interdiction, the coast guard boarding team seized eight bales of suspected contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.

The crew of Heriberto Hernandez embarked four men from the go-fast along with the seized contraband. The suspects included two Venezuelans, a Colombian and a Dominican Republic national.

The cutter Venturous then transported the suspected smugglers and contraband to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they were transferred to awaiting Caribbean Corridor Strike Force federal law enforcement agents.

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