Crime

Five brought to Miami after an estimated $11.6 million of cocaine confiscated at sea

Some of the bags confiscated near the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean.
Some of the bags confiscated near the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Courtesy

Two new cases involving the interdiction of go-fast boats allegedly carrying cocaine in the Caribbean and the Pacific have appeared in Miami federal court dockets after the crewmen on both vessels were transported to Miami for possible trial.

One of the interdictions occurred near the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean and the other south of the Mexican resort of Acapulco in the Pacific. During the operation near Bonaire, five crewmen — four Venezuelans and one Dominican — were detained. In the operation south of Acapulco, seven crew members — four Mexicans, two Ecuadorans and one Colombian — were detained. All 12 suspects were brought to Miami for possible trial, according to court records.

The interdictions near Bonaire and Acapulco are only the most recent such episodes in a long series of similar operations over the years. Hundreds of foreign crew members from multiple countries the hemisphere have been brought to Miami and other cities for trial.

A criminal complaint from a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration outlined the Bonaire operation last month, which unfolded after a U.S. patrol plane sighted a suspicious go-fast boat in the area.

The Oct. 27 case developed some 115 miles north of Bonaire.

A plane crew member alerted the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Wave Knight, one of the allied ships that assist the U.S. Coast Guard to patrol sea lanes to discourage drug trafficking, about the presence of the go-fast.

The Wave Knight’s captain dispatched a helicopter and two small boats to pursue the go-fast.

“Upon observing the helicopter, the go-fast vessel crew began jettisoning packages overboard while making way,” according to the DEA criminal complaint. “The helicopter deployed warning shots, which were ineffective. Disabling fire to the port engine successfully brought the go fast vessel to a stop.”

One of the two boats dispatched by the Wave Knight recovered 12 bales containing cocaine, according to the criminal complaint.

Personnel in the second boat boarded the go fast vessel and detained the five crewmen.

In all, the recovered bales contained 350 kilos of cocaine worth $11.6 million, according to authorities.

Meanwhile, the episode south of Acapulco took place Oct. 18.

It also unfolded when a U.S. patrol plane sighted a go-fast boat 150 miles south of Acapulco, according to a criminal complaint from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Crew members on the plane saw people on the go-fast throwing bales overboard.

The nearby Coast Guard cutter Mellon sent two small boats to investigate.

Coast Guard personnel detained seven crewmen on the go-fast: four Mexicans, two Ecuadorans and one Colombian. Coast Guard personnel also recovered 36 bales containing 940 kilos of cocaine.

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