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