Customs officials confiscated a total of 1,299 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of $17.6 million inside a vessel that was intercepted last week near the coast of Puerto Rico.

The United States Customs and Border Protection, alongside agents from the Air and Marine Operations (AMO), inspected the vessel last Wednesday evening, June 9, and discovered the hidden cocaine inside the ship.

Cocaine Hidden in Ship Seized Near Puerto Rico

An AMO Fajardo Marine Unit stopped a 26-foot center console Mako vessel that was navigating southwest, around four nautical miles north of Vieques in Puerto Rico. The ship only had one occupant.

The vessel was then escorted to the Fajardo Marine boathouse for full inspection. Agents found hidden compartments inside the vessel, and inside these compartments were 516 bricks that later tested positive for cocaine after a field test was conducted.

According to FOX23, acting director of the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, Hector Rojas, said that transnational criminal organizations try to transport illegal drugs through various means. 

However, Rojas noted that their agents would continue to utilize their advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect illegal transportations and intercept the drug traffickers in the coastal borders.

Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) assumed the custody of the boat's occupant and the intercepted contraband for investigation.

Acting special agent in charge of the DEA Caribbean Division John Kanig said that the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are pursuing the drug syndicates. 

He noted that they continue to work together in order to secure the borders of the lands and seas. Kanig emphasized that it is part of their non-stop effort that constantly disrupts the drug trafficking organizations, and in doing so, it makes communities safer, WFTV reported. 

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Air and Marine Operations

The Air and Marine Operations safeguards the U.S. by anticipating and confronting security threats in the country's aviation and maritime premises. 

The agency ensures that they will be exhibiting law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond.

AMO's P-3 Long Range Tracker and Airborne Early Warning crews, who created a partnership with Joint Interagency Task Force-South and federal authorities, stopped transnational smuggling of almost six tons of narcotics between April 16 and April 24 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Because of this, the group has denied narcotics traffickers an estimated $156 million in illicit proceeds.

Currently, the AMO has approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating all over the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. 

AMO serves as the country's experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement. It is a federal law enforcement agency within the Customs and Border Protection under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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