U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents, with support from the Puerto Rico Army National Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partners seized Monday night 1,493 pounds (677 kilos) of cocaine and arrested two men near the Punta Santiago area of the municipality of Humacao, in the island’s east coast. The estimated value of the seized cocaine is $17 million.
“Our collaborative efforts with federal and local law enforcement partners has been vital to detecting smuggling incidents such as this one,” stated Johnny Morales, Director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.
On the evening of Aug. 19, CBP AMO Marine Interdiction Agents from the Fajardo Marine Unit received a notification that a Puerto Rico Army National Guard helicopter had detected a lights out “yola” type vessel entering the area of Punta Santiago in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The aircraft crew could observe two persons on board and multiple bales of suspected contraband, as well as five individuals on the shoreline.
As the National Guard aircrew got closer the individuals on the shore absconded, but the crew maintained surveillance of the “yola” with the contraband.
AMO Marine Interdiction Agents were able to intercept the vessel at the shoreline and arrested the two persons on board, finding 20 bales of suspected narcotics inside.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents assumed custody of the contraband and the individuals for investigation and prosecution.