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US Customs to break ground on new $15.6M facility in Ponce

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO), Caribbean Air and Marine Branch announced the expansion of its footprint in Puerto Rico, with the start of a new 9,650 square-foot, $15.6 million Ponce Marine Unit.

The groundbreaking is planned for Aug. 18, with an expected completion in 2024.

This new facility will provide AMO with a permanent structure to facilitate operations out of Ponce. The prior operating location was intended for temporary use after their facility was damaged in the 2020 earthquake.

“Our agents are the best at what they do,” said Augusto Reyes, director of the AMO. “This new facility will make them even better. Having the most modernized technology and equipment helps us to execute our mission and protect the American people more effectively.”

The new facility will be fully modernized with state-of-the-art communications and security features, operating and administrative spaces, fitness center and training areas. The lot will feature a pier, boat ramp, and boat maintenance bay to facilitate operation of the 41-foot SAFE Boat.

The Caribbean Air and Marine Branch consists of five marine units and an air unit and is the only federal law enforcement organization in the Caribbean Basin with integrated air and maritime interdiction capabilities.

AMO uses radar facilities and assets to detect and intercept air and marine smuggling attempts in Puerto Rico and surrounding areas.

The Caribbean Air and Marine Branch’s area of responsibility extends south to international waters of Venezuela, west to the Dominican Republic, and southeast to the Lesser Antilles, agency officials said.

In Fiscal Year 2021, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the seizure or disruption of 324,772 pounds of cocaine, 779,725 pounds of marijuana, 1,191 pounds of fentanyl, 18,548 pounds of methamphetamine, 900 weapons and $73.3 million, and led to 1,119 arrests, and 122,035 apprehensions of undocumented individuals.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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