One US Customs and Border Protection agent is dead and two others were injured in a shootout with suspected drug smugglers off the coast of Puerto Rico, agency spokesman Jeffrey Quiñones said.
“The agent who was transported directly to the hospital in Mayaguez, we were told just a few minutes ago, they confirmed that he has passed away. “We cannot release any other details about the agent until the family is notified,” Quiñones said.
Three agents were patrolling off the coast of Puerto Rico on Thursday morning when they encountered a suspected smuggling vessel, the agency said. The situation escalated when the agents were shot, and one agent was killed and two others were injured in the shooting, according to the agency.
One suspected smuggler was killed, and another was arrested, the agency announced. Authorities have not released the nationalities of the suspects at this time.
As of Thursday evening, three people were in federal custody pending federal charges, said Joseph Gonzalez, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan field office. No further details were available on the nature of the charges or the nationalities of the individuals.
The identities of the agents have not been released.
The two surviving agents are being treated in Puerto Rico for multiple gunshot wounds, according to Dr. Israel Ayala, medical director of the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration.
“One of them was immediately admitted to the stabilization unit and is being treated by emergency physicians and trauma specialists,” Ayala said in a statement to CNN. “Meanwhile, the other agent is in what we call minor surgery and is also being assessed and treated by EMS and trauma services.”
Ayala also said the hospitalized agents are getting the attention they need and their progress will be monitored over the next 24 hours.
Gonzalez said one agent is in critical condition and the other is in stable condition.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorca told lawmakers he was briefed on the situation Thursday morning and offered prayers for the agents and their families.
“We pray for the family of the police officer who lost his life and we pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured,” Mallorcas said during a Senate panel on threats around the world.
The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations are investigating the incident.