On Tuesday February 21, 2017 an intelligence driven Operation Stonegarden law enforcement mission, conducted by Puerto Rico Police’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action or FURA, intercepted 1,522 pounds of cocaine worth US$19.3 million.
Working with Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) agents FURA personnel detained a Dominican Republic male trafficker and seized twenty-four bales of cocaine, the drug consignment deposited on a Manunabo beach, along PR’s southeastern coast.
Stonegarden was created in 2005 as a US pilot Program for funding border security’s “operational costs and equipment.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) oversees its timetable. On August 11, 2009 Stonegarden became the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Grant Program’s main feature, an additional US$30 million pledged to coordination. For the Fiscal Year 2016 Puerto Rico’s Police Department and its FURA Unit received one US$310,000 Stonegarden grant, financial support for active joint FURA/US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) assignments.
A year ago this month US Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working with CCSF partners, seized 1,786 kilos of cocaine in Cataño on Puerto Rico’s north coast, the cocaine’s street value US$45 million. More than US$30,000 cash and three firearms were confiscated, three of six detained traffickers extradited from the Dominican Republic.
As part of an independent Operation Stonegarden review attention focused on the state of Arizona’s law enforcement agencies. Trends showed that Program funds were exploited, not exclusively used to strengthen US border security weaknesses. The city of Bisbee paid police officers US$615,532, from Operation Stonegarden allotted funds. For an extended period in 2007 Bisbee’s Deputy Police Chief worked fourteen hours daily. No documentation pertaining to the senior officer’s activities, while on Stonegarden funded extra work shifts, was found. He earned almost US$100,000 in overtime.
Stonegarden is also controversial in America’s northern borderlands such as Bellingham, Washington’s thirteenth largest city. An increasing number of Bellingham’s police officers assist US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdowns against illegal immigrants and drugs traffickers. ICE agents mainly enforce “Title 21” that pertains to offensives against importation, distribution, production and possession of illegal drugs. In September 2008 a New Mexico federal court ordered raids conducted in immigrant communities by the Otero County Sheriff’s Department funded with Operation Stonegarden money, be deemed illegal searches and seizures.