SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CBSMiami) — Thirty-seven million dollars worth of cocaine has been seized at sea.
The nearly 1,125 kilos of cocaine was interdicted in the Caribbean Sea by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Puerto Rico Police.
Officials also took two Dominican Republic nationals into custody.
The seizure took place during a routine Caribbean patrol when the crew of a Coast Guard Patrol Aircraft from Air Station Miami spotted a 35-foot speed boat traveling without any lights, south of Puerto Rico.
The Coast Guard dispatched two Cutters, the Drummond and Farallon, and launched a helicopter to intercept the boat.
When the boat refused to stop, the helicopter fired warning shots. When the boat still refused to stop, the crew fired at and disabled one of the engines. At that point, three people on board began to throw the illegal contraband overboard.
Officials from Customs and Border Protection along with Puerto Rico Police then intercepted the boat and two of the men on board were taken into custody.
The third person had jumped overboard, according to the other suspects.
The Coast Guard conducted a large scale search that lasted 34 hours and covered 546 square miles but he was not found.
During that search, crews also recovered 45 bales of cocaine from the water.
The two smugglers, the seized cocaine and boat were taken to Ponce, Puerto Rico for processing and prosecution.
“Our multiagency partnerships in the region along with the continuous augmentation of Coast Guard air and surface assets sent to Puerto Rico to interdict major drug shipments at sea continues to pay off,” said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Commander, Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “The airborne use of force expertly applied by the Coast Guard helicopter crew to stop this vessel should serve as a serious deterrent to smugglers to know they will be caught and brought to justice.”