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US customs seizes cocaine worth $9.1 million

US customs officers seized 877 pounds of cocaine concealed on board a Caribbean ferry boat in a single bust over the holidays, according to Customs and Border Protection. The value of the seized cocaine has been estimated at $9.1 million.

On December 26, officers noticed a hidden compartment during a routine cargo inspection of the arriving boat at a dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they discovered 355 tightly wrapped packages that were the size of bricks, CBP said. The contents later tested positive for cocaine.

Caribbean ferry boat Photo/US Customs and Border Protection

Registered in the Bahamas, the vessel regularly transits through the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, according to authorities.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said on Wednesday said US officials in south Florida have seen a 400% increase in migrant encounters so far in 2022 compared to the same period 2021.

Officials based out of the Miami region have tracked and disrupted 26 human smuggling events involving nearly 600 migrants in the past five days alone, Ortiz added.

The transnational criminal organizations that facilitate human smuggling are often the same groups that traffic weapons and drugs, US officials say.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas