SAN JUAN – Two Dominican citizens were arrested on Puerto Rico’s southern coast in possession of 1,280 kilograms of cocaine, a shipment valued at $37 million, in one of the most significant blows against drug trafficking so far this year in the Caribbean, local authorities reported Tuesday.
The head of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office in Puerto Rico, Jose Ruiz Santiago, said at a press conference that the arrested men, identified as Santos Lantigua Nuñez and Efrain Cedano Diaz, were located on April 29 some 37 kilometers (23 miles) south of Ponce, a city on the island’s southern coast.
“We understood it was coming from Colombia,” said Ruiz Santiago about the shipment, adding that the operation began when a U.S. Coast Guard air patrol spotted a suspicious boat 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Ponce.
The two men began throwing bundles into the water when they noticed the approaching law enforcement authorities, although the entire shipment was recovered and the men were arrested, although they said they had been in the company of a third man, whom police did not locate.
The two men are being held in the jail in Guaynabo, a town near San Juan and are facing a minimum 10 years – but possibly as much as life – in prison, if found guilty.
About 18 percent of the drugs that pass through the Caribbean remain in Puerto Rico, the island’s police chief, Jose Caldero, told Efe in a recent interview, adding that 70 percent of the murders committed on the island are linked to drugs.