US Customs disrupts human smuggling in Caribbean Sea

US Customs disrupts human smuggling in Caribbean Sea

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC) — The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says crews from its Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) have collaborated with US federal and local law enforcement partners in disrupting a human smuggling attempt in the Caribbean Sea near Puerto Rico, resulting in the apprehension and repatriation of 15 individuals.

The CBP said a Caribbean-based DHC-8 aircrew on recent patrol detected a suspicious single-engine yola-type vessel operating without navigational lights off the coast of Puerto Rico.

It said the crew “maintained surveillance and vectored in two Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) Marine Unit (FURA) crews to interdict”.

According to the CBP, local marine authorities apprehended 15 individuals, seized the vessel and then contacted the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to assist.

“The crew of the USCG cutter Joseph Doyle safely embarked 15 individuals after providing them with lifejackets, food, water, shelter and basic medical attention,” said CBP, adding that, later, the cutter transferred the 15 people to the cutter Robert Yered for transport and repatriation to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel.

“Air and marine operations safeguard our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond,” said the CBP.

With about 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the CBP said its air and marine operations “serve as the nation's experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement”.

The CBP said enforcement actions this year resulted in the seizure of 194,220 pounds of cocaine, 278,492 pounds of marijuana, 15,985 pounds of methamphetamine, 952 weapons and US$51.5 million.

The CBP added that the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch also seized 39,683 pounds of narcotics and US$12 million in currency.

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