Federal agents seized a load of cocaine worth $35 million from a boat off Puerto Rico's southern coast, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.
A Jacksonville-based Air and Marine Operations crew on assignment in the area spotted the 30-foot vessel traveling north toward Puerto Rico with "visible bales" of drugs and three occupants aboard, authorities said.
The suspect vessel ended up running aground a reef, prompting officers to arrest the three men, two of whom were from the Dominican Republic and one from Colombia.
Agents found 44 bales aboard the ship holding 3,382 pounds of cocaine, or 1,500 kilos.
It's one of the largest drug seizures reported off Puerto Rican waters this year, which are considered a transit point for drugs heading for the U.S. and other countries.
Federal agents intercepted another 3,000-pound load on the island's eastern coast in June worth $32 million. In 2021, a record $50 million load of cocaine was seized off its southeast region.
The Drug Enforcement Administration now has custody of the three individuals and the narcotics.
"Drug trafficking continues to fuel the violence that is poisoning Puerto Rico" said Denise Foster, the DEA's Caribbean division special agent in charge. "The DEA will continue to work with its counterparts strengthening our partnerships to eradicate these drug trafficking organizations."
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