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US agents seize $8 million from boat in Caribbean

US agents seize $8 million from boat in Caribbean

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter disabled a suspicious high-speed boat with gunfire and the four men aboard were detained after they tossed bales containing $8 million in cash into the Caribbean, federal authorities said Tuesday.
The four Colombians were delivered to Puerto Rico on Monday and arrested by agents from the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force, which investigates the trafficking of South American drugs.
"Law enforcement will continue to hit them where it hurts the most, in the drug traffickers' pockets," said Luis Fraticelli, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Puerto Rico.
The go-fast boat with four outboard engines was intercepted June 21 as it traveled north from Panama without a flag or navigation lights. A Coast Guard helicopter opened fire and disabled the boat after it ignored orders to stop, and the crew members jettisoned more than a dozen bales of cash, according to an FBI affidavit. The money was recovered.
Tests conducted by the Coast Guard on the 40-foot (12-meter) boat also indicated the presence of cocaine, suggesting it had recently been used to store or transport drugs, the affidavit said.
The suspect identified as the crew's leader, 43-year-old Robert Hotivo, allegedly told authorities aboard a Coast Guard cutter that he was offered $40,000 to transport the money. The FBI affidavit said he admitted making other such trips.
The identity of his employer and the vessel's destination were not disclosed.
The four men were charged with "failure to heave to" _ disobeying an order by U.S. law enforcement officials to stop at sea _ and are being held in a federal lockup in San Juan. A preliminary detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.