Caribbean Corridor Strike Force makes counter-narcotics strides

By Dialogo
March 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – United States forces arrested two alleged Dominican narco-traffickers in connection with the seizure of a US$30 million cocaine shipment aboard a go-fast boat that officials stopped in the Caribbean Sea on March 4.
The arrests and seizure of 1,103 kilograms of cocaine, carried out by the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is yet another victory for the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Initiative (CCSF).
CCSF is an organized crime drug enforcement initiative 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 distribution to the United States.
The CCSF includes the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, the CBP and ICE.
The operation was the result of U.S. Federal agents’ working together with the Caribbean Border Interagency Group’s (CBIG) Operation Caribbean Guard.
“Our multiagency and international partnerships in the region continue to pay off as we continue to interdict major drug shipments and bring smugglers to justice,” said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, who commands Coast Guard Sector San Juan, said in a prepared statement. “Our resolve and commitment are unwavering.”
The crew of a USCG HC-144 Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft from Air Station Miami spotted the 40-foot go-fast boat traveling without any lights late on the night of March 3. CBP Ponce Marine Units intercepted the go-fast vessel, about six nautical miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The CBP’s crew seized about 30 bales that tested positive for cocaine in the morning.
“The collaborative operations and partnerships under CBIG always yield positive results to stop smuggling ventures,” Johnny Morales, the director of air operations for CBP’s Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), said in a prepared statement.
The bust follows other recent major seizures under the CCSF.
In October, the U.S. Coast Guard and its law enforcement partners seized about 1,155 kilograms of cocaine worth about US$34 million and arrested three suspects aboard a go-fast boat that the pursuers intercepted Friday in the Caribbean Sea south of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Officials charged Allan Hasani Greenidge, Ángel Luis Rivera-Montañez and Ángel Ribot-Aguiar with possession with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine.
“Interdicting drug smugglers at sea in the middle of the night is a complex and dangerous operation only possible through the resolve of federal and regional law enforcement authorities committed to safeguarding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from the threats that come from the sea,” Pearson said in a prepared statement. “We will continue our aggressive patrol efforts with our interagency partners to interdict these major drug shipments as far from shore as possible and bring those responsible to justice.”
In June, the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Netherlands Navy and U.S. law enforcement partners arrested three alleged Dominican narco-traffickers in connection with the seizure of 688 kilograms following an interdiction in the Caribbean Sea. Officials valued the cocaine at more than US$24 million.
In January 2013, ICE and HSI agents arrested alleged Dominican narco-traffickers José De León and Wilson Concepción after seizing about 1,179 kilograms of cocaine worth more than US$29 million off a boat 43 nautical miles off Puerto Rico’s East Coast.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.