U.S. Border Patrol Agents and the Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces for Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish abbreviation) detected and intercepted Monday morning a vessel with four non-citizens from the Dominican Republic transporting 898 pounds (407 kilos) of cocaine near Cabo Rojo. The estimated value of the seized contraband is $8.5 million.
“One of the most important activities of a Border Patrol agent is line watch, which involves the detection, prevention and apprehension of smugglers at or near the coastal border by maintaining surveillance from a covert position,” stated Scott Garrett, Acting Chief Patrol Agent for the Ramey Border Patrol Sector. “This interception demonstrate that cooperation and coordination are critical to interdict these smuggling ventures into the island.”
Early morning on July 7, Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents detected a suspected smuggling vessel with four subjects onboard traveling without navigation lights approximately twelve nautical miles west of Cabo Rojo. The agents coordinated with a FURA Martine Unit, an Operation Stonegarden Partner, to intercept the vessel.
Prior to intercept, the individuals inside the vessel made evasive maneuvers while jettisoning several bales overboard. Once stopped, the vessel had four adult non-citizens claiming to be citizens and nationals of the Dominican Republic. A search of the vessel revealed a concealed firearm. A total of 346 bricks were recovered from the water.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took custody of the individuals and the contraband for investigation and prosecution.
The Operation Stonegarden Grant Program (OPSG) enhances cooperation and coordination from the U.S. Border Patrol with local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies in a joint mission to secure the border.
The Ramey Sector is one of the twenty-one Sectors spread out across the United States. Encompassing the U.S. territorial islands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it is the only Border Patrol Sector located outside the continental United States. The Sector’s entire border area is made up of coastline and its area of responsibility is made up of some 6,000 square miles of land and water area, including the twelve-mile band of territorial water surrounding the Islands.