On Thursday, approximately 15 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, US Customs and Border Patrol marine agents exchanged gunfire with a vessel suspected of carrying illicit substances.
The shootout left one agent dead and and two agents gravely injured. In addition, one suspect was fatally wounded.
In testimony before a Senate committee, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas confirmed the incident saying, “I was briefed on the situation very early this morning. These are brave members of our Air and Marine Operations within U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
“We pray for the family of the officer who lost his life. And we pray for the swift recovery of those who were injured.”
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A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent and a suspected smuggler died during a shootout Thursday off the Puerto Rico coast, authorities said. Two other U.S. officers were injured.
CBP’s Air and Marine Operations unit was on routine patrol around 8 a.m. Thursday when the shots were fired about 12 miles (19 kilometers) off the coast from Cabo Rojo, a major drug smuggling corridor for cocaine coming out of South America known as the Mona Passage, the agency said. It lies between Puerto Rico’s western coastline and the Dominican Republic.
Three CBP Marine Interdiction Agents exchanged gunfire with two people who were aboard the suspected smuggling ship, officials said. All three agents were shot and airlifted to local hospitals in Puerto Rico.
One of the agents was later pronounced dead. The agent’s identity was not immediately released and the condition of the other two agents was not immediately clear.