SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark transferred custody of two smugglers and offloaded approximately 250 kilograms cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan Saturday, following Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore’s interdiction of a go-fast smuggling vessel in the Caribbean Sea.
The apprehended smugglers are Dominican Republic nationals, who were charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine aboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The cocaine seized has an estimated wholesale value of approximately $7.5 million dollars. US Coast Guard Special Assistant United States Attorney Jordan H. Martin is in charge of the prosecution of this case.
The interdiction resulted from multi-agency efforts in support of US Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere and coordination with the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
During a routine patrol Wednesday, a US Maritime Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) detected a suspect go-fast vessel, approximately 145 nautical miles south of the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the cutter Kathleen Moore to carry out the interdiction. With the assistance of the cutter’s small boat, the crew of the Kathleen Moore interdicted the 25-foot vessel that was carrying two men and ten bales of suspected contraband onboard, which tested positive for cocaine.
“The crew did a great job working with interagency partners and Coast Guard watchstanders preventing this drug smuggling go-fast from making landfall,” said Lt. Andrew R. Collins, cutter Kathleen Moore commanding officer. “We are glad to help keep these drugs off the streets, and we will continue to work diligently with fellow Coast Guard units and our interagency partners to stop these drug-smuggling attempts in the high seas.”
The seized drugs and detainees were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez and then to the Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark for transport to Puerto Rico, where federal law enforcement agents from the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force received custody.
Cutters Kathleen Moore and Heriberto Hernandez are 154-foot fast response cutters respectively homeported in Key West, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cutter Reef Shark is an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.