Three held in US $30m. cocaine bust

SAN JUAN — United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s agency says the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force arrested three individuals and seized 1,300 kilogrammes of cocaine with an estimated street value of US $30 million.

“This is one of the largest amounts of cocaine that US Homeland Security Investigation, with the assistance of our CCSF partners, has been able to seize in Puerto Rico this year,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan, on Saturday.

“These seizures and related arrests are clear proof that HSI, along with our state and federal partners, are vigilant and will not tolerate the importation of illegal drugs into the United States through Puerto Rico,” he added.

Melendez said the task force had detected a suspicious vehicle carrying several tanks of gasoline similar to those normally used during the sea transfer of narcotics in the Caribbean Sea.

Vessel intercepted

“Upon inspection of the shoreline near Santa Isabel, the officers detected and intercepted a vessel carrying the 1,300 kilogrammes of contraband and arrested the crew of three Dominican nationals,” he said.

Melendez said Simeon Pe√a-Hernandez, 52, Paulino Almonte, 46, and Ramon Medina-Laureano, 39, were arrested in conjunction with the seizure.

He said they had their initial hearing before US Magistrate Marcos Lopez and were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of their case.

The CCSF is an initiative of the US Attorney’s Office “created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organisations operating in the Caribbean.” (CMC)

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