Four Arrested in 1,608 Kilograms Cocaine Seizure off Puerto Rico
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SAN JUAN, PR – On March 27, 2017, federal officers assigned to the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) arrested four individuals while attempting to smuggle 1,608 kilograms of cocaine into Puerto Rico, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. A Glock 9mm pistol and 18 rounds of 9mm ammunition were also seized during the arrests. U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille L. Vélez-Rivé authorized a complaint charging Wilson Cuevas-Alcántara, Evelio Rivera-Jiménez, Tairo Martínez-De Rosario and Juan C. Rodríguez with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine.
On Monday, at approximately 12:00am, a United States Customs and Border Protection Marine Patrol Aircraft detected a vessel traveling southbound without navigation lights at approximately 40 nautical miles (NM) north of Dorado, Puerto Rico. The aircraft coordinated with the CBP Interceptor Unit and the United States Coast Guard to intercept the vessel. The CBP Interceptor Unit came to a short distance of the vessel at approximately four nautical miles north of the coast of Río Grande, PR, and initiated the interdiction of the vessel by energizing its blue lights, siren and verbal commands, but the vessel did not stop and continued at a high rate of speed of approximately 30-35knots.
The CBP Interceptor Unit fired two warning shots, but the vessel did not stop so they fired six disabling rounds to the vessel engines. Two individuals were arrested onboard and the other two who had jumped overboard during the pursuit were also apprehended by members of the United States Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police Maritime Unit.
Forty-eight bales containing 1,449 bricks of cocaine weighing approximately 1,608 kilograms were field tested and yielded positive results to cocaine.
“These arrests are a clear indication of the continued success of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “This is just another example of the fine work our State and Federal law enforcement partners accomplish every day. With the continued collaboration and assistance of our law enforcement partners, we will continue our efforts to bring the most powerful and prolific drug organizations to justice.”
“This is another example of how our anti-crime plan, which establishes a close collaboration with the federal agencies, is producing great dividends,” said Puerto Rico Police Department Superintendent Michelle Hernandez. “We congratulate all PRPD police officers who participated in this effort and the Caribbean Corridor officers and special agents for keeping our borders safe. Drug traffickers should know that we are working as a team to stop the flow of drugs on the Island.”
The case is being investigated by agents from the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF). The CCSF is 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) that 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. The initiative is composed of DEA, HSI, FBI, US Coast Guard, US Attorney Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and PRPD’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Carlos R. Cardona.
The defendants are facing terms of imprisonment from 10 years to life for the narcotics violations. Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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