FAJARDO, Puerto Rico (FOX 5 NY) - The crew of a suspected smuggling vessel running dark off the coast of Puerto Rico abandoned the boat and millions of dollars in cash when federal agents in the sky got too close on Sunday.
An aircraft carrying agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration was pursuing the east-bound vessel when it abruptly turned around and returned to shore, authorities said.
The crew landed the boat near the entrance to the Rio Fajardo in Maternillo, tried to unload some duffel bags, but then quickly ditched them and took off as agents approached, authorities said.
The feds soon learned what was inside those five duffels: $3.7 million in undeclared cash. Agents searching the boat also found a loaded Taurus .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and boxes of ammunition.
"We remain committed to working with other federal and local law enforcement partners to detect and deter smuggling attempts throughout the Caribbean," said Johnny Morales, the director of Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.
Customs and Border Protection seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws, the agency said.
The vessel was likely heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This story was produced in New York City.