US Coast Guard seizes $20 million in cocaine during bust near Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Roughly $20 million worth of cocaine was recently seized by the U.S. Coast Guard on patrol near Puerto Rico, resulting in the arrest of two male smugglers, the agency said.
The seized cocaine was offloaded on Monday at the U.S. Coast Guard Base in San Juan. The agency shared photos and a video of agents hauling more than 30 bales of cocaine, which totaled approximately 1,000 kilograms (roughly 2.2 pounds).
Officials said the seizure happened during a routine patrol on March 30 when the crew of a Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted a "suspect vessel" in the Caribbean Sea near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The crew in the Coast Guard’s Cutter Donald Horsley, a 154-foot fast response patrol boat, soon intercepted the 35-foot boat.
"The vessel was carrying two men, Dominican Republic nationals, and multiple bales of suspected contraband, which tested positive for cocaine," the Coast Guard said in a news release.
The Coast Guard crew apprehended the two men and seized a total of 33 bales of cocaine. The agency said the seized drugs had an estimated street value of approximately $20 million.
"This case highlights the Coast Guard’s unwavering resolve and that of our fellow partners to interdict drug smuggling vessels at sea and safeguard the nation’s southernmost maritime border," Capt. Gregory H. Magee, Sector San Juan commander, said in a statement.
Officials said the seizure was a result of a partnership with the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.
"These partnerships are key to achieving to protecting our citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from drug trafficking and other smuggling threats in the Caribbean," Magee added.
The detainees and sized cocaine were turned over to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, who were leading the investigation.
Earlier this year, the Coast Guard seized more than $1 billion in cocaine and marijuana in Florida in one of its largest seizures to date. The drugs were found with traffickers during "multiple interdictions" or at sea in the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.