Downtown Miami

‘Miami Vice’-style coke bust on the Miami River

2,000 pounds of cocaine found on freighter from Haiti in Miami River

Agents from Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard found 2,000 pounds of cocaine on a freighter from Haiti on June 1, 2016.
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Agents from Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard found 2,000 pounds of cocaine on a freighter from Haiti on June 1, 2016.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection made a bust on the Miami River on Wednesday afternoon that fueled memories of 1980s Miami and the infamous days of television’s Miami Vice.

Agents found 2,000 pounds of cocaine hidden aboard the Haitian freighter, Lisanne, in compartments welded into the decking plate of the 210-foot steel vessel.

“This is huge, very significant and the biggest we have had in a long time,” said Bill Olejasz, assistant port director. “Last year was about 1,000 pounds, but we’d have to go back 12 to 15 years for the last time we had something this big on the river.”

Customs and Border Protection routinely searches vessels that come in from Haiti along the Miami River — “a high-risk country for cocaine boats,” Olejasz said. The first stash of cocaine on the Lisanne was found late Tuesday night, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard.

As agents continued the search into Wednesday afternoon, they drilled and found additional kilo packages hidden in a second compartment as the ship sat in dock at 3300 N. North River Dr. A kilo generally has a street value of between $20,000 and $30,000 in Miami.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests had been made. The crew of seven to nine people are in the custody of Customs and will likely be deported, Olejasz said.

In earlier cocaine busts, in February 2015, Customs and Border Protection found nearly 800 pounds of cocaine hidden inside a 180-foot cargo vessel on the Miami River. In August that year, 55 cocaine-filled, brick-shaped packages were found aboard the Gulf Trader that was docked at a shipping yard on the Miami River after arriving from Cap-Haïtien.

In September 2015, 136 kilograms of cocaine in brick-shaped packages were found aboard the Ana Cecilia after the cargo vessel docked on the river from Haiti. The Ana Cecilia will be sunk in July in West Palm Beach to create an artificial reef, customs is expected to announce soon.

A 598-pound batch of cocaine was discovered by Customs at Miami International Airport stashed in an 11,000-pound hydraulic cylinder in December 2009.

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