Suspected smugglers shoot three US border agents off Puerto Rico coast

Suspected smugglers engaged in a shootout with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents off the northwestern coast of Puerto Rico, injuring three, the agency said Thursday.

The agents, who specialize in intercepting substances and people illegally approaching US territory, were about 14 miles off the coast of Cabo Rojo when they exchanged gunfire with people aboard a boat suspected of carrying illicit substances to the island, according to the CBP.

Suspected smugglers shoot three US border agents off Puerto Rico coast
US Customs and Border Protection patrols US coastal waters for illegal activities.

“The Marine Agents suffered various gunshot injuries as a result,” the agency said in an email to The Post. “The agents are being airlifted by CBP and Coast Guard to the Puerto Rico Trauma Center.”

The Washington Examiner, citing unnamed sources, said one agent died in the shooting, but CBP did not confirm that information to The Post. The news organization also claimed the smugglers were moving illicit drugs.

“The event is currently under investigation,” the agency said. “Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”

The unnamed agents worked for CBP’s Air and Marine Operations division (AMO), which employs 1,800 federal agents and support personnel who patrol the skies and seas for illegal activity and threats to national security throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands, according to its website.

Suspected smugglers shoot three US border agents off Puerto Rico coast

“AMO interdicts unlawful people and cargo approaching U.S. borders, investigates criminal networks and provides domain awareness in the air and maritime environments and responds to contingencies and national taskings,” the division said on its website.

According to the AMO, in fiscal year 2021, the unit seized nearly 325,000 pounds of cocaine, 780,000 pounds of marijuana, 1,200 pounds of fentanyl, and 18,500 pounds of methamphetamine.