Customs checks out boat towed to shore in Fort Pierce

Posted at 2:52 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 10:09:59-04

A boat docked at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Fort Pierce was the object of intense law enforcement scrutiny Wednesday.

Witnesses describe that drugs, money and canisters of fuel where found on the boat.

Aerial shots of Chopper 5 showed what appeared to be U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers boarding the boat.

They were wearing protective gloves and were seen carefully searching the vessel.

The Coast Guard said it towed the boat to port but did not release any other information.

Seth Curphy does maintenance for Square Grouper Tiki Bar at the Fort Pierce Inlet every morning.

“This morning was little different,” Curphy said. “I saw some guys running across the field.”

He said he saw their boat tied up illegally.

“I went over there to see if they needed help,” Curphy said. “Maybe they thought the boat was broken. Went up to the boat and noticed it wasn’t broken, there was a lot of - what looked like - drugs on there.”

Soon after the Coast Guard, Fort Pierce Police and Homeland Security were all on scene.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson would only say in a statement that, "a Homeland Security Investigations-led law enforcement action was conducted with the support of state, local and federal law enforcement partners." 

In Fort Pierce it was certainly the talk of the town on Wednesday.

“It’s just that everyone is local and everyone knows each other,” a Fort Pierce woman, who wanted to stay anonymous, said.

She said three suspicious men came into the store she works at.

“At first I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “But they were asking how to get a taxi off of the island.”

It wasn’t until later, when police asked her if she had seen people with duffle bags, she got suspicious.

A witness said he saw 4 people onboard, but it's unclear if they were detained.

Homeland Security called it an active investigation and said no further details could be released at this time.