October 11, 2012
HSI, Caribbean Border Interagency Group seize 735 kilograms
of cocaine, arrest 2
More than 3,700 kilograms of cocaine seized in less
than 3 months
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations
(HSI), working jointly with members of the Caribbean Border
Interagency Group, arrested two individuals for drug
trafficking and seized 735 kilograms of cocaine with an
estimated street value of more than $18 million off the
southern coast of Puerto Rico Tuesday. With this seizure,
HSI and its partners have seized more than 3,700 kilograms
of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $92 million
in the past 71 days.
"This is the fourth multi-kilogram cocaine seizure
made by HSI and its partners in the last couple of
months," said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in
charge of HSI San Juan. "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
On Oct. 8, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
patrol aircraft detected two men onboard a suspicious
go-fast vessel with multiple bales of suspected contraband
at approximately 55 nautical miles south of Salinas, Puerto
Rico. Upon detection, CBP officers alerted the U.S. Coast
Guard and CBP marine units, which led to the interdiction
of the suspicious vessel.
A boarding team from the Reef Shark, a U.S. Coast Guard
cutter, located the cocaine shipment sitting in plain view
and proceeded to detain the suspected smugglers and the
cocaine shipment. The Reef Shark proceeded to tow the
go-fast vessel to Ponce, Puerto Rico, where the crew
transferred custody of the seized vessel and two suspects
to HSI for further investigation.
Dioni Rijo-Avila and Alexander Urrutia-La Llave were
arrested in connection with the seizure. They had their
initial court hearing Wednesday and were transferred to the
Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico,
where they await the outcome of their case.
During fiscal year 2012, HSI San Juan and its partners
seized more than 9,000 kilograms of cocaine - 2,690
kilograms more than they seized in fiscal year 2011.
In July 2006, HSI, CBP, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S.
Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico and
the Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action formed
the Caribbean Border Interagency Group to unify their
efforts. All the agencies have a common goal of securing
the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected weapons and
narcotics smuggling and related information by calling
1-866-DHS-2ICE or visiting www.ICE.gov/tips.