The United States Coast Guard has reported one fatality after its airborne unit used force to stop a non-compliant vessel suspected of smuggling illicit drugs in the Caribbean Sea.
A January 11, 2024 Coast Guard release identified the deceased as a Dominican Republic national.
According to the Coast Guard release, two other suspected smugglers they apprehended face prosecution in the U.S. federal courts.
“The seized contraband, approximately 385 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $11.1 million, will be transferred ashore at a later date,” the release stated.
It disclosed that on January 1, a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment deployed aboard a U.S. Navy ship in the Caribbean Sea identified a vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics and attempted to stop it.
“The vessel failed to stop and Coast Guard District Seven authorized airborne use of force in accordance with policy, including warning shots and disabling fire, for a non-compliant vessel suspected of smuggling illicit narcotics in international waters,” the Coast Guard said.
It explained that the law enforcement boarding team arrived and identified that one of the crewmembers suffered an injury as a result of the use of force.
The Coast Guard said Navy and Coast Guard members performed first aid and transferred the injured individual to the Navy ship before Navy helicopter evacuation to higher level care ashore in the Dominican Republic.
The Coast Guard later received a report from Dominican authorities that the patient, a Dominican national, succumbed to injuries.
The release on the incident quoted Lt. Cmdr. John W. Beal, Coast Guard District Seven public affairs officer saying that the Coast Guard takes any loss of life seriously and is working to investigate the incident according to Coast Guard policy.