Over Two Tons of Cocaine Seized Off Coast of Aruba Suspected foul-play involving American teenager Natalee Holloway isn't the only big crime story in Aruba these days. Known as a favorite transshipment for drug traffckers, the waters surrounding Aruba were the scene of a major drug interdiction operation by US officials.
United States federal agents seized 4,488 pounds of cocaine on board the Bolivian-flagged vessel M/V Sea Atlantic at approximately 150 nautical miles off the coast of Aruba. The seizure was part of Operation Caribbean Corridor, an investigative/law enforcement initiative by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Coast Guard in the Caribbean Basin.
The Sea Atlantic, sailing under the Bolivian flag, raised the interest of law enforcement organizations operating as part of Operation Caribbean Corridor. After successful cooperation between the USCG, the international counter drug organization Joint Inter- Agency Task Force South, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and the Coast Guard for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, more than 65 bales of cocaine were found in a hidden compartment on board the ship.
The USCG Law Enforcement Detachment -- permanently stationed onboard the Royal Netherlands Navy Ship -- boarded the motor vessel, assisted by a Royal Netherlands Navy Maritime security Team. Later that morning, they found 68 bales (approximately 4,488 pounds) of a powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine during a field test.
The crew of the M/V Sea Atlantic was arrested and the ship was escorted to Puerto Rico by the USCG Cutter Vigorous.
The following crew members of the M/V Sea Atlantic are now in federal custody, according to arrest reports: Alicides Rodriguez Duran, 38, citizen of Venezuela Carlos Julio Almonte, 59, citizen of Dominican Republic Gandaogo Minoungou, 42, citizen of Burkina Faso Nii Klaku Okley, 39, citizen of Ghana Ruberts Jose Gonzalez Valero, 29, citizen of Venezuela Ronald Jose Morelis, 32, citizen of Venezuela Julio Cesar de la Rosa, 34, citizen of Dominican Republic Reinaldo Jose Cabello, 42, citizen of Venezuela Alberto Javier Padilla, 36, citizen of Mexico
“ICE and the other federal agencies in Operation Caribbean Corridor -- DEA, FBI and the US Coast Guard -- are working together, efficiently and intelligently to stop the transshipment of drugs and other contraband in the Caribbean Basin,” according to officials from ICE.
"US Coast Guard law enforcement detachments have a proud and successful history of intercepting contraband with the Dutch navy in the Caribbean. With the aggressive work of ICE, DEA and the FBI in Operation Caribbean Corridor, our collective resources are maximized as we work together to keep drugs off the streets." Said Captain James Tunstall, Commander, USCG, Sector San Juan.
The crew members arrested will be prosecuted in federal court in Puerto Rico.