US Coast Guard in huge Caribbean cocaine bust
The US Coast Guard intercepted 1,400 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of more than US$17 million from a go-fast vessel in the southwest Caribbean Sea on Jan. 24, 2013, according to a statement yesterday from the Coast Guard.
While on a patrol, the statement said that the crew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast vessel with four persons aboard.
“The crewmembers from the Coast Guard cutter Mohawk were diverted to the scene and launched their embarked helicopter crew from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, deployed out of Jacksonville, Fla. The helicopter located the go-fast vessel and witnessed the suspected smugglers jettison the contraband as they continued their pursuit.
“Mohawk smallboat crewmembers subsequently located the vessel and conducted a law enforcement boarding while recovering 18 of suspected contraband from the water. The bales later tested positive for cocaine”, the statement said.
The 18 bales of cocaine and the four suspected smugglers were moved to the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant and taken to law enforcement agents ashore.
“Seizures at sea are the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep contraband off the streets of America,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, 7th Coast Guard District assistant chief of enforcement in the statement. ”The crew of the Mohawk and their embarked HITRON helicopter crew flawlessly executed another successful at-sea interdiction. As part of Operation Martillo, they successfully denied drug smugglers from bringing illegal narcotics into the Central American transhipment route and ultimately prevented these drugs from crossing national borders”, he added.
The Coast Guard statement said that the interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the US’s “whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash.”
The statement described Operation Martillo as an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.