The U.S. authorities seized a 989 kilograms (2,176 pounds) cocaine shipment and apprehended thirteen men following an at-sea interdiction of a delivery vessel and coastal freighter, approximately eight nautical miles off the coast of Manatí, Puerto Rico February 3, 2015.
Two of the suspected smugglers from the delivery vessel, both of Venezuelan nationality, were charged with conspiracy to import the aforementioned cocaine shipment. The seized cocaine shipment was estimated to have a street value of approximately USD 29 million dollars.
The suspects apprehended aboard the 267-foot St. Vincent and Grenadines flag coastal freighter Atlantic VII were comprised of four Dominican Republic nationals, four Cubans, one Peruvian, one Panamanian and an Ecuadorian. The 11 suspects from the Atlantic VII were also charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the United States.
While on routine patrol the evening of Tuesday, February 3, 2015, the crew of a Customs and Border Protection DCH-8 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) detected the Atlantic VII hovering outside U.S. territorial waters, and launching a small delivery vessel laden with suspicious packages.
The cocaine shipment, the detained smugglers, and the delivery vessel were transported to Coast Guard Sector San Juan, and transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) -Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents for further investigation. The Atlantic VII and detained crew were brought to the Port of Ponce, Puerto Rico, for further investigation and the detained crew was transferred to custody of ICE-HSI Special Agents.