U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine agents aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning aircraft assisted in the disruption of close to 1.5 tonnes of cocaine worth about USD 246 million and effecting the arrest of eight men, on Friday August 29, 2014, CPB said in a release.
The P-3 and its crew are based at OAM’s National Air Security Operations Center-Corpus Christi, Texas.
While on patrol as part of the Joint Interagency Task Force-South, the OAM crew aboard the P-3 aircraft detected a fishing vessel off the coast of Panama.
After the monitoring the vessel’s activities, the crew directed a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter to intercept vessel.
The crew of the USCG Legare boarded the 165-foot Panamanian-flagged coastal freighter Hope II, and through a search of the ship, located approximately 1,493 kilograms of contraband, which tested positive as cocaine.
The eight crewmembers aboard the Hope II and the vessel were taken into custody and will be turned over to U.S. officials for further investigation.
“This latest seizure highlights our joint efforts to disrupt transnational criminal activity before it reaches the U.S. border and further illustrates the results multi-agencies and partner nations achieve as part of JIATF-South,” said NASOC-CC Director Thomas Salter.
JIATF-S, a component of U.S. Southern Command, conducts interagency and international operations and facilitates the interdiction of illicit trafficking in support of national and partner nation security.
According to U.S. Southern Command, in 2013 JIATF-S international efforts resulted in the seizure of 131 metric tons of cocaine with a Miami wholesale value of USD 2.6 bn.