Law enforcement authorities from the Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group, known as CBIG, seized 2,324 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $30 million, Saturday following the interdiction of a go-fast vessel off Luquillo, Puerto Rico.
According to the Coast Guard, the interdiction is the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group.
“This successful interdiction is a testament to the crew’s vigilance, dedication to the mission, and quick action, and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Lt. Katherine Ustler, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley. “Their efforts, along with support from our partner agencies, directly prevented over a ton of cocaine from reaching the streets of Puerto Rico.”
While on a routine patrol of the area, the crew of Donald Horsley detected a suspicious go-fast vessel at 1:16 a.m. Saturday. The boat with three people on board was transiting without navigational lights about nine nautical miles off the coast of Luquillo, Puerto Rico, on the northeast corner of Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan alerted CBIG partner agencies of the developing situation while the Donald Horsley remained in hot pursuit of the go-fast, with the assistance of unit’s Over the Horizon IV cutter boat.
Upon detecting the Coast Guard’s presence, the crew of the go-fast proceeded to attempt to flee the area at high speed with the Donald Horsley’s cutter boat remaining in hot pursuit. During the pursuit, the Donald Horsley crew observed the suspected smugglers jettison numerous bales of their cargo overboard. Shortly thereafter, the go-fast made landfall near La Pared Beach in Luquillo, where the smugglers fled the area and abandoned the go-fast with the remaining cargo onboard.
Following the pursuit, the Donald Horsley combined efforts with responding U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine units, as well as, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations land teams, which located and recovered 47 bales from the water and the abandoned go-fast.
A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft also assisted in the search for the jettisoned cargo. The recovered cargo tested positive for cocaine.
The seized contraband is in the custody of ICE-HSI, which is leading the investigation into this case.
The Donald Horsley is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter home ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.