The haul was 3,086 pounds of cocaine worth more than $46.2 million.
That is what the U.S. Coast Guard, United Kingdom Royal Navy and U.S. law enforcement partners seized following the interdiction of two separate suspected drug smuggling events in the Caribbean Sea on Jan. 24 and Jan. 30, according to a release.
There also were nine suspected smugglers detained, the release said. See the video below as the crew offloads the cocaine.
The interdiction was part of “an international, multi-agency law enforcement effort in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard, Campaign Martillo (a joint, interagency, 20-nation collaborative counter narcotic effort), and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF),” the release said. The case will be prosecuted by the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
“These interdictions highlight the importance of working with our allied partners such as the United Kingdom Royal Navy, as well as our joint interagency collaboration with the Department of Defense and our local and federal law enforcement in the region, said Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones, commander of the Coast Guard Seventh District, in the release. “These efforts, underpinned by our unwavering resolve to stop drug smuggling vessels at sea, greatly contribute to safeguarding our citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and protecting our shared interests of a safer and more secure Caribbean.”
W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico said the interdictions “highlight the importance of working with our international partners as we combat drug trafficking.”
– In the first interdiction, the Royal Navy RFA Mounts Bay (L3008), while on patrol with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron armed helicopter onboard, detected two suspicious go-fast vessels, approximately 74 nautical miles south of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the release said.
“The RFA Mounts Bay launched the Coast Guard HITRON helicopter and the ship’s pursuit vessel with the Coast Guard LEDET to interdict both suspect vessels. The Coast Guard LEDET boarding team, with the assistance of RFA Mounts Bay crewmembers, boarded both suspect vessels, apprehending the seven men and seizing 42 bales of suspected contraband.”
– In the second interdiction, a marine patrol aircraft detected a northbound “target of interest, southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic.” Cutter Bear’s Over the Horizon cutter boat and an embarked helicopter “arrived on scene and stopped the go-fast. Cutter Bear’s boarding team detained the two men aboard the go-fast, after discovering 13 bales of suspected contraband.”
The Bear delivered the seized contraband and detainees from both cases to Customs and Border Protection officers, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-HSI, and DEA special agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, the release said.
– Between October and December 2019, the Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group authorities seized 12,060 kilograms of cocaine and 407 pounds of marijuana during law enforcement operations surrounding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the release said. “The wholesale value for these seizures is worth more than $314 million.”
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