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Coast Guard transfers 3 smugglers, $3.3 million dollars of cocaine to DEA agents following at-sea interdiction off Loiza, Puerto Rico

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118) crew transferred three smugglers and approximately $3.3 million dollars of cocaine to Drug Enforcement Administration agents at Sector San Juan Sept. 20, 2018, following the interdiction of a go-fast vessel Sept. 16, 2018 off Loiza, Puerto Rico. The interdiction was the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.

The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118) crew transferred custody of three smugglers and approximately $3.3 million dollars of cocaine to Drug Enforcement Administration agents at Sector San Juan Thursday, following the interdiction of a go-fast vessel Sunday off Loiza, Puerto Rico.

The interdiction was the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.

The three men, two Dominican nationals and a French citizen, apprehended in this case are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico.

“Each successful interdiction is another successful step towards protecting our borders and citizens from the threat of transnational criminal organizations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mario Gil, Joseph Tezanos commanding officer. “I am extremely proud of my crew for stepping up to this challenge. Through their professionalism and courage, we were able to stop millions of dollars of cocaine from reaching the streets of Puerto Rico.”

While on a routine patrol off Puerto Rico’s northern coast Saturday night, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a suspicious 35-foot go-fast vessel transiting toward Puerto Rico without navigational lights, approximately 50 nautical miles north of the island.

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118) interdicted a go-fast vessel, apprehended three smugglers and seized approximately $3.3 million dollars of cocaine Sept. 16, 2018 off Loiza, Puerto Rico. The interdiction was the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos to interdict the suspect vessel.  Once on scene, the Joseph Tezanos deployed their Over the Horizon cutter boat in pursuit of the go-fast.  During the pursuit, the crew of the Coast Guard aircraft observed the suspected smugglers jettisoning multiple packages of suspected contraband overboard.  The Joseph Tezanos crew stopped the go-fast and embarked the three men who were onboard, approximately 30 nautical miles north of Loiza.  Following the interdiction, the Joseph Tezanos crew located and recovered four bales from the water as well as three additional packages that were located by the of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen helicopter. The seized contraband weighed approximately 112 kilograms and tested positive for cocaine. 

“Coast Guard and Federal agencies will continue to deliver results such as this one,” said A.J. Collazo, DEA Caribbean Division Special Agent in Charge. “Significant amounts of cocaine have been seized during the last week, saving many lives along the way.  We will not relent or let down our guard.  We'll continue to combine our resources against drug trafficking in the Caribbean and those Transnational Criminal Organizations responsible will continue to suffer losses. ”

The Joseph Tezanos crew destroyed the go-fast vessel as a hazard to navigation. 

Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118) crew transferred three smugglers and approximately $3.3 million dollars of cocaine to Drug Enforcement Administration agents at Sector San Juan Sept. 20, 2018, following the interdiction of a go-fast vessel Sept. 16, 2018 off Loiza, Puerto Rico. The interdiction was the result of ongoing multi-agency law enforcement efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.

The Coast Guard’s efforts under Operation Unified Resolve contribute to the interagency results being achieved locally under Operation Caribbean Guard, which coordinates efforts between the Coast Guard, DHS and the Commonwealth and Territorial law enforcement partners, who are working diligently to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and 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 utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States.

The Joseph Tezanos is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

 


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