By Ivelisse Rivera and Ted Hesson
SAN JUAN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. federal agent was killed and two have been wounded in a gun battle with suspected drug smugglers on Thursday throughout an inspection of a vessel believed to be carrying medication off the coast of Puerto Rico, U.S. officers mentioned.
“These are courageous members of our Air and Marine Operations inside U.S. Customs and Border Safety,” mentioned U.S. Homeland Safety Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in testimony earlier than a U.S. Senate committee.
“Their bravery and selfless service ought to be acknowledged.”
Mayorkas, who was briefed on the state of affairs Thursday morning, mentioned the opposite brokers “have been gravely wounded.”
The brokers stopped the vessel, believed to be carrying managed substances, 14 miles (22.5 km) off the coast of the Puerto Rican municipality of Cabo Rojo, CBP spokesperson Jeffrey Quinones advised Reuters earlier.
Drug traffickers continuously use Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, as an entrance level for narcotics being smuggled from the Caribbean to the continental United States.
Puerto Rican police on Wednesday reported discovering 38 kg (84 lbs) of what was believed to be cocaine, in addition to the physique of a person beneath a 19-foot (6-meter) boat deserted on a seaside within the western municipality of Isabela.