U.S. customs officers seized a total of 877 pounds of cocaine concealed onboard a Caribbean ferry boat in a single bust over the holidays, Customs and Border Protection revealed.
The value of the cocaine was estimated at US$9.1 million.
In a statement, the port of entry director for Puerto Rico, Roberto Vaquero, said their experienced CBP officers remained "vigilant, utilizing their training and available tools to stop dangerous drugs from entering the country."
On December 26th, officers noticed a hidden compartment during a cargo inspection of the arriving boat at a dock in San Juan (Puerto Rico). They discovered 355 tightly wrapped packages the size of bricks. The contents tested positive for cocaine.
Registered in the Bahamas, the boat regularly transits through the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico-the Dominican Republic, authorities said.
The seizure comes amid the surge of migration across the Caribbean.
So far this fiscal year, U.S. officials in south Florida have seen a 400% increase in migrant encounters compared to the same period last year.
Officials based out of the Miami region have tracked/disrupted 26 human smuggling events involving ~600 migrants in the past 5 days alone.
The transnational criminal organizations facilitating human smuggling are often the same groups that traffic weapons/drugs, U.S. officials said.