After the interdiction of a go-fast vessel near Puerto Rico, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos offloaded close to $15 million worth of seized cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan on July 12 and transferred custody of two male smugglers.

Cocaine Trafficking in Puerto Rico

On July 10, during a routine patrol of the Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, its aircrew detected two men aboard a go-fast vessel that was suspected to be involved in a drug trafficking.

According to The Maritime Executive, the successful interception was the result of a coordinated multi-agency effort in support of the enhanced counter-narcotics operations by the U.S. Southern Command. The plane of the CBP coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico.

The drug bust happened near Mona Island, Puerto Rico, after an aircrew discovered two men on a 24-foot go-fast vessel that was believed to be part of drug trafficking.

The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos was operating from its homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the time. The vessel was at sea also on a routine mission when it was diverted to coordinate with the aircraft. Responding to the scene, the cutter found itself in hot pursuit to intercept the suspected vessel involved in drug trafficking. The suspected vessel was seen throwing packages overboard but the cutter's small boat successfully intercepted the go-fast vessel.

Moreover, when the cutter crew entered the terminated vessel, officers were able to locate the remaining packages inside the vessel after some of them were thrown off of the boat and into the water. A total of 502 packages of cocaine were confiscated, approximately weighing 1,104 pounds or more than 500 kilos. The two smugglers who were at the vessel during the interception were transferred to custody Monday at Coast Guard Base San Juan.

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The commanding officer of Cutter Joseph Tezanos, Lt. Anthony Orr, stated that he directly attributed the success of the interdiction to the close interoperability that the Coast Guard has with CBP. Orr also praised the performance of his crew who displayed phenomenal performance during the pursuit, boarding and towing the go-fast vessel. The commanding officer said that it was his pleasure to work with the crew of the CBP aircraft, who helped the cutter in intercepting the go-fast vessel.

The Director of the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, Hector Rojas, stated that the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch valued their partnerships with different agencies which resulted in the successful seizure and even in the past. Rojas added that their agents would continue using their advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect and interdict smugglers in their attempts of trafficking drugs throughout their coastal borders.

The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force is a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that focuses on the Caribbean and South American-based Transnational Criminal Organizations involved in the maritime and air smuggling shipments of narcotics from Puerto Rico.

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Written by Jess Smith

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