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Second large cocaine shipment seized off Puerto Rico within one week
Published on April 5, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized 3,373 pounds (1,530 kilos) of cocaine on Thursday inside a wooden vessel off the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The estimated value of the narcotics is $42.8 million.

Near midnight on Wednesday, a CBP Office of Air and Marine (OAM) Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) detected a 30-foot twin engine wooden vessel traveling north at approximately 25 knots heading directly to Puerto Rico. While under surveillance, the MPA coordinated with the CBP OAM Marine Patrol Units to intercept the vessel.

The vessel made landfall in the vicinity of Patillas, just as the CBP OAM interceptors arrived on scene. Upon landing, the three persons onboard the vessel absconded into the vegetation on shore.

Puerto Rico Police Department officers (PRPD), CBP Border Patrol agents and CBP Marine Interdiction agents searched the area to find the three absconded suspects, to no avail.

Inside the vessel approximately 55 bales were found, filled with brick-shaped objects that were field tested and yielded positive results to cocaine. HSI Special Agents took custody of the contraband and the vessel for further investigation.

Earlier in the week, 1,774 kilos of cocaine were intercepted by federal authorities on board a Zodiac type vessel, 10 miles off the northern coast of Puerto Rico, with an estimated value of $50 million.

Two crew members were placed under arrest. Further, a total of 61 bales of cocaine were seized with an approximate weight of 1,774.4 kilograms. Two Venezuelan men were arrested and formally charged for smuggling.
 
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