U.S. Coast Guard Intercepts Four Smugglers and $7M in Cocaine

The crew of USCGC Venturous delivers a smuggling suspect to federal agents in San Juan (USCG)

Published Oct 15, 2020 9:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Venturous transferred four suspected smugglers and 246 kilos of seized cocaine to federal law enforcement at the Port of San Juan after an interdiction in the Caribbean Sea. The estimated wholesale value of the seized drug shipment was nearly $7 million.

“Successful outcomes as in this case are a testament to the strong relationships between the Coast Guard and participating partner agency units who share an unwavering resolve to stopping drug smuggling vessels at sea,” said Lt. Andrew Russo, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez's commanding officer.  “The crew of the Heriberto Hernandez is proud to help safeguard the Caribbean and our nation’s southernmost maritime border."

The interception operation started on October 5 when the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted a suspicious 35-foot go-fast boat near the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, which relieved the CBP aircraft and maintained aerial coverage.

The crew of the Heriberto Hernandez responded to the sighting, and on the morning of October 6, they interdicted the go-fast vessel using the cutter’s small boat. During the interdiction, the Coast Guard boarding team seized eight bales of suspected contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.

The crew of the cutter Heriberto Hernandez detained four men from the go-fast, including two Venezuelans, one Colombian national and one Dominican Republic national. The cutter Venturous transported the suspected smugglers and contraband to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they were transferred to awaiting Caribbean Corridor Strike Force federal law enforcement agents.

Images courtesy USCG