$17.6M worth of cocaine hidden in ship seized near Puerto Rico

FAJARDO, Puerto Rico — Customs officials seized 1,299 pounds of cocaine from a ship last week near the coast of Puerto Rico, a haul worth an estimated $17.6 million.

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In a news release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Air and Marine Operations agents seized the narcotics on June 9 from a 26-foot center console Mako vessel. The ship was stopped about 4 miles north of Vieques, the release stated.

The vessel was escorted to the Fajardo Marine boathouse for a full inspection, the CBP said in its release. Agents discovered hidden compartments containing 516 bricks, which later tested positive for cocaine after a field test was conducted.

“Transnational criminal organizations try to move their illicit contraband through various means,” Hector Rojas, acting director of the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, said in a statement. “Our agents will continue to use our advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect and interdict them throughout our coastal borders.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration assumed custody of the boat’s occupant and the contraband for investigation, the CBP said.

“Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies continue to work together to secure our island’s borders,” John Kanig, acting special agent in charge of the DEA Caribbean Division, said in a statement. “It’s a non-stop effort that constantly disrupts these drug trafficking organizations and in doing so we help make our communities safer.”