MIAMI (CBS4) – A massive load of cocaine worth a wholesale value of $24 million was taken from three alleged Dominican smugglers aboard a go-fast boat in the Caribbean Sea.

The Coast Guard reports the pursuit was at high-speed with the bales of contraband being thrown into the water during the chase.

The scene played out on June 11, 2013 when the go-fast boat was spotted about 105 nautical miles southeast of Ponce, Puerto Rice by the crew aboard Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry marine surveillance aircraft.

Once spotted, the Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS Holland Offshore Patrol vessel along with U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) intersected the go-fast boat.

Just how fast the boats traveled was not available.

Crew members from the supporting agencies rounded up 20 tossed bales. Law enforcement reports they were all cocaine, weighing more than 1,500 pounds.

The three suspected smugglers were taken to Customs and Border Protection officers and Immigrations and Customs (ICE) special agents in Ponce, Puerto Rico June 13.

“Our local, federal and international partnerships are making a difference to stem the flow of drugs into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as far as possible and bring those responsible to justice,” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander.

A criminal investigation is ongoing and enforcement agencies hope to stop future smugglers.

“We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try to smuggle illegal contraband into our area of jurisdiction,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

“This recent interdiction shows again that cooperation at sea is extremely important for counter-drug operations”, said Cmdr. RNLN Chris van den Berg, commanding officer of HNLMS Holland.

It has been a busy start to 2013 for the Coast Guard.

Since May 21, 2012, Operation Unified Resolve has seized 31,400 pounds of cocaine and 8,500 pounds of marijuana.

The wholesale value of the drugs is more than $387,500,000 million.


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