SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized Monday 6.42 kilos (14 pounds) of cocaine found inside a Mazda pickup vehicle arriving on board the Puerto Rico–Dominican Republic ferry in San Juan.
During inbound inspections of passenger vehicles that arrived from the Dominican Republic onboard the M/V “Caribbean Fantasy”, a CBP K-9 alerted of the potential presence of narcotics on board a Mazda B3000 pickup with Puerto Rico license plates. An x-ray of the vehicle confirmed the alert to CBP officers.
After a thorough search of the vehicle, CBP officers found 10 packages of cocaine inside the vehicle’s bed-liner.
CBP officers arrested the vehicle’s driver, Jose Eduardo Rodriguez-Gomez, 25, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
The estimated street value of the seized cocaine is approximately $144,000.
The custody of the vehicle and the narcotics was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents who arrested two additional individuals allegedly involved in the smuggling venture: Aida Perez Amador, 53, and Alejandro Pena-Guzman, 43, both of San Juan. Those arrested had their initial appearance Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Marcos.
“We have stepped up our inspection of aircraft and maritime vessels through a risk-management based, layered enforcement approach closing routes for smugglers,” indicated Marcelino Borges, director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
“These arrests and seizures should send a message to those who think they can use our ports-of-entry to smuggle contraband from abroad,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “We will continue working with CBP, and all the members of San Juan’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) to identify, arrest and prosecute drug smugglers.”