Photo by Ricardo Castrodad, U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET San Juan.

Coast Guard and Partners Seize Cocaine and Apprehend Suspected Smugglers in Caribbean Sea

The U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and law enforcement partners seized 225 kilograms of cocaine and apprehended three suspected smugglers following the interdiction of a drug smuggling go-fast in the Caribbean Sea, on August 24.

Two suspected smugglers are Dominican Republic nationals and one is Colombian, while the seized cocaine has a wholesale value of approximately $6 million.

The interdiction is the result 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), and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.

During a routine patrol in support of Joint Interagency Task Force – South’s mission to detect attempts to transport contraband into the U.S. and partner nations, the USS Kidd’s (DDG 100) helicopter crew sighted a suspicious go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea. The USS Kidd, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating with U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 401 onboard, coordinated with the Coast Guard Seventh District to interdict the suspect vessel.

The helicopter crew observed the suspected smugglers jettison multiple bales into the water as the go-fast continued to evade capture. The USS Kidd successfully interdicted and boarded the go-fast with the assistance of the CG LEDET 401. The USS Kidd’s crew and CG LEDET 401 apprehended the suspected smugglers and recovered eight jettisoned bales from the water. The seized contraband tested positive for cocaine.

The Coast Guard Cutter Resolute (WMEC-620) embarked and transported the suspected smugglers and seized contraband to San Juan, Puerto Rico Saturday, where awaiting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-HSI, and DEA special agents received custody.

These cases are part of the CCSF, a multiagency OCDETF strike force comprised of federal and state law enforcement including the DEA, DHS, ICE, FBI, USCG, U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety. 

The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results achieved locally under Operation Caribbean Guard. Operation Caribbean Guard coordinates daily efforts between the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Commonwealth and Territorial law enforcement partners, who are working diligently to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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