Written by 7th Coast Guard District public affairs.
Coast Guard crews along with Caribbean Border Interagency Group federal law enforcement authorities seized approximately $190,000, a semi-automatic weapon and approximately 300 rounds of ammunition from inside a vessel, northwest of Puerto Rico.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Maritime Patrol Aircraft detected the vessel approximately 60 miles northwest of Puerto Rico. The vessel had no visible registration, flag or markings.
Coordinating with watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico, CBP personnel intercepted the vessel at sea. A Coast Guard Air Station Miami aircrew and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing then diverted to interdict the vessel.
Once aboard the suspect vessel, Cushing’s boarding team located approximately $190,000, a semi-automatic weapon and approximately 300 rounds of ammunition.
Cushing’s boarding team took custody of the five suspects aboard the vessel, currency and weapon and transported them to the Marine Interdiction Group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.
“The outstanding actions and coordination between Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing and our DHS partners from Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, were instrumental in preventing this money, weapon and ammunition from reaching the streets and being used to support criminal activities in Puerto Rico,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander.
In July 2006, the Caribbean Border Interagency Group was formally created to unify efforts of the Coast Guard, CBP, ICE, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action in their common goal of securing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal maritime traffic and gaining control of our nation’s Caribbean borders.
The concept of the interagency group resulted from a March 2006 collaboration of local Homeland Security components that effectively stemmed the increased flow of traffic across the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.