The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported that the British Royal Navy and U.S. law enforcement partners seized 1,400 kilograms (3,086) pounds of cocaine and detained nine suspected smugglers following the interdiction of two separate drug smuggling events in the Caribbean Sea Jan. 24 and Jan. 30, 2020.
The US Coast Guard cutter Bear delivered the seized contraband and detainees from both cases to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-Homeland Security Investigations, and Drug Enforcement Administration special agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday.
The interdiction was a result of an international, multi-agency law enforcement effort in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard, Campaign Martillo (a joint, inter-agency, 20-nation collaborative counter narcotic effort), and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
In the first interdiction, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy RFA Mounts Bay, while on patrol with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) armed helicopter onboard, detected two suspicious go-fast vessels, approximately 74 nautical miles south of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The RFA Mounts Bay launched the Coast Guard HITRON helicopter and the ship’s pursuit vessel with the Coast Guard LEDET to interdict both suspect vessels.
The Coast Guard LEDET boarding team, with the assistance of RFA Mounts Bay crew members, boarded the suspected vessels, apprehending the seven men and seizing 42 bales of suspected contraband.
In the second interdiction, a marine patrol aircraft detected a northbound target of interest, southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic. The cutter Bear along with a helicopter responded to interdict the go-fast. Cutter Bear’s Over the Horizon cutter boat and embarked helicopter arrived on scene and stopped the go-fast. Cutter Bear’s boarding team detained the two men aboard the go-fast, after discovering 13 bales of suspected contraband.
CBP is part of the Caribbean Border Strike Force (CCSF); an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States.
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