The US Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) law enforcement authorities have seized US$30 million in cocaine and apprehended three suspected smugglers in the Eastern Caribbean.
The seizure of the 2,606 pounds of cocaine followed the interdiction of a go-fast vessel last week in waters off Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (USVI). The smugglers were transferred to US Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents in St. Thomas, USVI, last Friday.
The suspected smugglers, who claimed to be from the Dominican Republic, are facing likely federal prosecution by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of the USVI.
According to the Coast Guard, the suspicious go-fast vessel was detected transiting with three people on board, approximately 65 nautical miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Even after sunset, the go-fast continued to transit in the dark without the use of navigational lights, it said.
Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan alerted CBIG partner agencies of the developing situation, and diverted the Coast Guard Cutters Joseph Tezanos and Thetis to interdict the vessel, with the crews of two Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch maritime patrol aircrafts also responding and supporting the interdiction by maintaining aerial surveillance of the go-fast.
Once on scene, the Tezanos remained in pursuit of the go-fast, as the crew launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon Boat IV that closed-in and interdicted the go-fast, approximately 95 miles nautical miles northeast of St Thomas, USVI. The Tezanos boat crew located 52 bales of suspected contraband aboard the go-fast that a field test yielded positive results for cocaine.