US Coast Guard offloads $6.5M in seized cocaine, transfers four smugglers to federal agents in Puerto Rico

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser and Caribbean Corridor Strike Force agents offloaded 721pounds (327kgs) of cocaine Wednesday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, following the interdiction of a smuggling vessel in the Mona Passage.

The four men apprehended in this case claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals who are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance Aboard a Vessel Subject to the Jurisdiction of the United States. This charge carries carry a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life.  An additional charge includes Assaulting Federal Officers with a Deadly Weapon, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

The Transnational Organized Crime Assistant US Attorney Jorge Matos from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico is leading the prosecution for this case, while Special Agents supporting the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force are leading the investigation.

During the late night hours of September 26, 2022, the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a suspect go-fast vessel in waters northwest of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. With Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser in pursuit, the smugglers jettisoned multiple bales of suspected contraband into the water. The Winslow Griesser crew stopped the suspect vessel, apprehended the four men and recovered 12 bales of the jettisoned contraband, which later tested positive for cocaine.

“I cannot be prouder of the Winslow Griesser crew, especially our small boat crew, whose skill and professionalism were instrumental in stopping this drug smuggling go-fast vessel,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Tatara, cutter Winslow Griesser commanding officer. “We appreciate our Customs and Border Protection and our Coast Guard watchstanders who worked seamlessly to ensure a successful outcome in this case that helped keep these drugs from reaching the shores of Puerto Rico and bring those responsible to justice.”

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