St. John News: CBP intercepts vessel with over 300 kilos of cocaine

BYM Marine and Maritime News Virgin Islands 11/17/2011

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a vessel carrying 10 bales of cocaine, weighing 709.4 pounds, near French Cap Cay this weekend.

Just past midnight Friday, a CBP maritime surveillance aircraft on patrol detected a “yola” type vessel with two outboard engines, center console, and three people on board, traveling on a northwest course without navigation lights.

The vessel was kept under constant surveillance by the CBP aircraft, observing that the vessel stopped in French Cap Cay, where two of the three individuals on board jumped in the water and swam toward the island.

They appeared to be carrying packages to shore. After they finished stashing the packages, they left the island and headed east towards the southern end of St. John …

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2 thoughts on “St. John News: CBP intercepts vessel with over 300 kilos of cocaine”

  1. They swam bales to shore on French Cap and stashed them? If you’ve ever been near French Cap you’ll know this is impossible. In broad daylight without a load it’s hard to get up on French Cap. At night with a 50-80 lb bale of cocaine? Out of the question.
    There are other elements of this story that don’t make sense either. How do you track a boat without navigation lights from an airplane? And, even if you could do that (maybe thermally?) wouldn’t the circling plane spook the smugglers?
    Finally if you know Spanish you’ll know that a yola is usually a small homemade boat with sails and oars. A fast powerboat with two large outboard motors is not a yola.

  2. I agree about the difficulty (or advisability) of carrying 80 pound bales onshore at Frenchcap at night. The moon was near full that night; so it’s possible (but unlikely) that the pilot would be able to observe such a thing (if it indeed happened at all) without making too many passes and without making too much noise. (Customs uses the services of private pilots with small planes to do surveillance work, offering the opportunity to build up flying hours with fuel paid for by Uncle Sam, but they usually do this on weekend days and not at night.)
    The one thing I don’t agree with you about is that in modern usage the word “yola” does indeed refer to an open boat, usually about 25 – 30 feet long with a fairly narrow beam, often powered twin outboards, which are mostly used for fishing, but nowadays, also serving to smuggle people and/or contraband.

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