Local September 26, 2014 | 12:02 pm

US agents seize drugs on Dominican-Puerto Rico ferry

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) field operations officers discovered 8.5 kilograms (18.7 pounds) of cocaine and 5.55 kilograms (12.2 pounds) of heroin concealed within a truck arriving from the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. The seized drugs have an approximate street value of US$573,000.

CBP officers arrested the driver of the vehicle, Lino Tavarez Diaz, 46, a citizen of the Dominican Republic with legal permanent resident status in the US.

During inbound inspections of passenger vehicles arriving from the Dominican Republic onboard the M/V “Caribbean Fantasy” ferry, a CBP non-intrusive exam revealed some anomalies in a truck with Puerto Rico license plates. Further canine inspection alerted to the potential presence of narcotics in the truck and was followed by a more intrusive inspection revealing the concealed narcotics.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is leading the investigation. The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico accepted prosecution for Mr. Tavarez-Diaz.

“CBP officers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands remain vigilant to maintain the security of our borders”, indicated Marcelino Borges, Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “This seizure demonstrates their excellence in detecting hidden contraband and our commitment to keep our communities safe”.

CBP uses sophisticated methods to identify and target potentially high-risk passengers and cargo, including advanced electronic information about every passenger and cargo shipment entering into the U.S. before their arrival and non-intrusive device technology during inspections.

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

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