The US Coast Guard along with the US Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and a Joint Interagency Task Force carried out the largest maritime cocaine seizure in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since 2009, intercepting a shipment of more than five and a half tonnes of contraband off Costa Rica.
When the USS Gary (FFG-51), on routine patrol in the region with a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment aboard, approached a small coastal freighter in early March, the ship’s crew was observed throwing bales of contraband into the sea. The freighter later stopped and was boarded by Coast Guard personnel.
The US Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell (WHEC-719) and the Canadian navy vessel HMCS Whitehorse (MM-705) joined the operation to provide additional US Coast Guard law enforcement teams to search the vessel, retrieve contraband from the ocean, and coordinate transfer of the suspects ashore.
A search of the freighter revealed no additional bales of cocaine, but those retrieved from the ocean amounted to approximately 11,000 pounds. A US Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft also assisted in the operation helping to locate floating contraband and providing communications support.
”This is dangerous work,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District.
”It takes dedication and professionalism to counter the destructive and corrosive work of the transnational criminal organizations behind the drug trade. We must work as one to stop such large shipments of deadly drugs, and this interdiction is a testament to the tenacity of our Coast Guard, Navy and Canadian navy crews in the field, and of those ashore providing support and coordination.”
The largest US at-sea cocaine bust on record occurred in the Eastern Pacific in 2007 when the crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter Sherman (WHEC-720) discovered approximately 21 tons of contraband aboard the Panamanian registered vessel Gatun.
Image: US Coast Guard/Flickr