Local May 16, 2013 | 9:12 am

U.S. agents seize drugs stashed in vehicles from Dom. Rep.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and BorderProtection (CBP) officers and special agents of U.S. Immigration and CustomsEnforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), seized a total of6.04 kg (13.3 pounds) of heroin and 5.14 kg (11.3 pounds) of cocaine hidden invehicles arriving from the Dominican Republic at the San Juan Seaport inseparate incidents this previous weekend.

Last Friday, during inbound inspections of passengervehicles arriving from the Dominican Republic onboard the M/V “CaribbeanFantasy” ferry, CBP inspected a van with Puerto Rico cargo license plates. After a thorough search, CBP officers found199 pellets of cocaine with a weight of approximately 2.8 kilos (6.2 pounds)inside the vehicle.

CBP officers arrested the vehicle’s driver, LuisCordero-Abreu, 36, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and transferred custody of thevehicle and the narcotics to ICE HSI special agents, who subsequently arrestedMiguel Espinosa-Garcia, another individual allegedly involved in the smugglingventure.

On Monday May 13, 2013, CBP inspected three separatevehicles arriving from the Dominican Republic, and found 3.37 kg (7.68 pounds)of heroin, 2.37 kg (5.03 pounds) of cocaine, and 2.67 kg (5.14 pounds) ofheroin, respectively, inside the vehicles.

CBP officers proceeded to arrest the drivers of eachvehicle: Francisco Diaz Feliz, 53, and Rafael De La Cruz, 61, both DominicanRepublic nationals and US citizen Scott Wesley Purdy, 45. Additional subjects arrested by ICE HSIspecial agents, allegedly involved in the smuggling venture were: Josel FijosAgustin, 42, and Roberto Rodriguez Lopez, 47.

ICE HSI is leading the investigation and presentedcharges against the individuals for consideration by the US Attorney’s Officefor the District of Puerto Rico. Assistant United States Attorney Justin R.Martin accepted prosecution on all cases.

“We have stepped up our inspection of aircraft andmaritime vessels through a risk-management based, layered enforcement approachclosing routes for smugglers,” indicated Marcelino Borges, Director of FieldOperations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“These arrests and seizures should send a message tothose individuals who think they can use our ports of entry to smugglecontraband from abroad,” said said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge forHSI Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

CBP uses sophisticated methods to identify and targetpotentially high-risk passengers and cargo, including advanced electronicinformation about every passenger and cargo shipment entering into the U.S.before their arrival.

CBP’s dual mission is to facilitate travel in the UnitedStates while we secure our borders, our people and our visitors from those thatwould do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, andcontraband. CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration andcustoms laws, but they enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and havestopped thousands of violators of U.S. law.

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