Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Seizes 245 Kilograms of Cocaine, Arrests Two
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 10, 2012|
SAN JUAN, PR—The U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, along with the heads of the agencies that compose the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) announced today the seizure of approximately 119 bricks of cocaine with an estimate weight of 245 kilograms and an approximate street value of $4.9 million; and the arrest of two U.S. citizens for illegal importation of narcotics.
At approximately 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, a Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) assigned to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agent, detected a suspicious white fiberglass twin outboard center console vessel traveling eastbound towards Puerto Rico with two persons on board.
A second suspicious vessel; described as a single engine, white fiberglass with light blue trim, with two persons wearing yellow raincoats; was observed in the vicinity traveling westbound towards the Dominican Republic. The proximity within the two vessels suggested a possible transfer of contraband at sea.
A CBP marine interceptor was launched to intercept the vessel reaching it at approximately 10 miles off the coast of La Parguera in the southwestern coast of the island. Once intercepted, the crew of the suspicious vessel was instructed to set course to the Mayaguez Marine Unit for further inspection. The inspections conducted by CBP’s field operations officers and Border Patrol agents revealed approximately 199 bricks with a white powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine during a field drug test.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents took custody of the narcotics and the two individuals for further investigation.
Those arrested, the brothers Elvis Aviles Vega, 46, and Alberto Aviles, 47, were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They will have the initial hearing before a magistrate judge on Friday.
“We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and try to smuggle and transport illegal contraband in our jurisdiction,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
CCSF is an initiative of the United States 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 initiative is composed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, ICE HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard and PRPD’s FURA.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Jose Capo Iriarte.