The U.S. Coast Guard said it offloaded approximately 4.2 tons of seized cocaine, worth an estimated $125 million at Coast Guard Sector San Juan on Monday.
This interdiction is the largest maritime seizure in the Atlantic since 1999 and was the result of ongoing, multi-agency and international law enforcement efforts led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Saint Croix.
The operation was assisted by DEA Barbados Office and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard, and international cooperation, including the British National Crime Agency (NCA).
Four Guyanese men apprehended in this case were transferred Saturday to federal law enforcement authorities in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
During the night of February 16, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier detected and interdicted a suspicious fishing vessel in international waters north of Paramaribo, Suriname, in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Joseph Napier crew interdicted the 70-foot fishing vessel, Lady Michelle, detained the four suspected smugglers and seized numerous bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine. Following the interdiction, a Trinidad and Tobago SPA class Coast Guard cutter based out of Staubles Bay, Trinidad, which was on a joint patrol with the Joseph Napier, provided safety and escort assistance on scene.
The crew of the Joseph Napier seized the contraband, apprehended the detainees, and towed the fishing vessel until relieved by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant. Vigilant then towed the fishing vessel to the island of St. Vincent, where the Lady Michelle is registered, and transferred the seized vessel to the custody of the St. Vincent Coast Guard.
The contraband was transported to Puerto Rico, where it was disembarked and placed in the custody of DEA, Caribbean Division special agents for processing and disposition.