July 4, 2022

US-Caribbean Coast Guard make multi-million dollar drugs bust

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SAN JUAN Puerto Rico (CMC) — Two days after four Guyanese were arrested, United States Coast Guard officials said that drugs estimated to value US$125 million had been seized during a joint operation involving Caribbean Coast Guard officials in international waters of Suriname.

The cocaine, weighing 4.2 tonnes were offloaded at Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico and followed the night time interception of a fishing vessel in international waters.

Officials here said the seizure is the biggest in the Atlantic since 1999.

“The excellent coordination between the US Coast Guard, and international law enforcement agencies prevented this major drug shipment from reaching our communities,” said Captain Robert W Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander, in announcing the operation.

 “We appreciate our continued partnerships with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and St Vincent Coast Guard. Our collective efforts are working to secure our region’s maritime borders and protect our citizens from this threat.”

The Coast Guard said that the February 18 exercise, revealed only on Monday, resulted in the smugglers being taken off a 70-foot fishing boat and facing prosecution by the US Attorney’s Office for the Virgin Islands.

According to the Coast Guard, the San Juan-based Sentinel-class fast response cutter Joseph Napier detected the fishing boat, Lady Michelle, north of Paramaribo, Suriname in international waters. The Coast Guard boarding team detained the four crewmen, and found bales that tested positive for cocaine.

A Trinidad and Tobago Standard Patrol class coast guard cutter based out of Staubles Bay, Trinidad, was on a joint patrol with the Napier and provided safety and escort assistance at the scene. The Napier took the Lady Michelle under tow until relieved by the Vigilant, a medium endurance cutter based out of Port Canaveral, Florida.

The Vigilant towed the fishing vessel to its port of registry, the island of St Vincent, and transferred custody to the St Vincent Coast Guard.

The operation was the latest result of multi-agency and international law enforcement efforts led by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office on St Croix, and assisted by DEA Barbados office, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force and the British National Crime Agency (NCA).

“As the cocaine flow from South America continues to increase, law enforcement partners in the Eastern Caribbean Region have to increase our collaborative efforts in order to effectively respond to the threat,” said James Doby, DEA assistant special agent in charge for the agency’s Caribbean division.

For more on this story go to: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/US-Caribbean-Coast-Guard-make-multi-million-dollar-drugs-bust

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