AMO Intercepts Vessel Near Mona Island Seizing 384 Pounds of Cocaine and Arresting 3 Smugglers

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico —Marine Agents of US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO), arrested Wednesday three non-citizens transporting inside a “yola” vessel 384 pounds (174.4 kilograms) of cocaine near Mona Island.    The estimated value of the seized narcotics is approximately $ 4.3 million.

Seizure

“This successful interdiction near Mona Island is a testament to the dedication of our Air and Marine agents,” stated Creighton Skeen, Acting Director of Air and Marine Operations in the Caribbean. “Our collective efforts have dealt a significant blow to criminal enterprises seeking to exploit our maritime borders for illicit activities. We remain steadfast in our commitment to securing our communities and preventing the harmful effects of drug trafficking.”

During a routine patrol, the crew of a AMO Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) detected a lights-out vessel moving east located northwest of Mona Island.

The MEA crew-maintained surveillance of the vessel to assist an AMO Marine unit to reach the vessel.  The vessel captain failed to heave, and the other occupants started dumping bales into the water.

The Marine Interdiction agents stopped the vessel and arrested the three vessel occupants, one Venezuelan and two Dominican Republic nationals.  The crew of a Marine unit recovered three bales from the water. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security Investigations took custody of the three men and the cocaine for investigation and prosecution.  

“The dedication of all Maritime surveillance assets is crucial to the success of the mission at hand, we will continue to work with our counterparts and allocate all our law enforcement resources to make a greater impact in vulnerable areas where criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking are causing greater damage”, stated DEA’s Caribbean Division Special Agent in Charge Denise Foster. “These individuals pose the greatest threat to the safety and health of our citizens”.   

AMO safeguards our Nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond.  With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation’s interior.

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