Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf crew conducts successful drug interdictions

Boarding team members from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf work to retrieve bales of contraband from the water that were thrown overboard by suspected smugglers in January 2015. The suspected smugglers were intercepted by Bertholf during a routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific during their recent deployment off the coast of Central America in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South counter-narcotics operations. During the deployment, Bertholf’s crew detected and boarded a number of suspicious vessels, locating and seizing more than 2,600 pounds of illegal narcotics and detaining a number of individuals suspected of smuggling. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf boarding team members.

Boarding team members from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf work to retrieve bales of contraband from the water that were thrown overboard by suspected smugglers in January 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf boarding team members.

MAYPORT, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, one of the Coast Guard’s newest vessels, is scheduled to arrive at U.S. Naval Station Mayport at 8 a.m., Sunday.

The crew of the Alameda-based Coast Guard cutter seized nearly $40 million worth of illegal narcotics in the Eastern Pacific Ocean early in their recent counter-drug deployment.

The crew of the Cutter Bertholf has finished a deployment off the coast of Central and South America in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South counter-narcotics operations. During the deployment, Bertholf’s crew detected and boarded a number of suspicious vessels, locating and seizing more than 2,600 pounds of illegal narcotics and detaining a number of individuals suspected of smuggling.

Bertholf’s boarding teams had their first seizure within a week of arriving off the coast of Central America. Members of the ship’s engineering department were also recently commended for their dedication in providing an exceptional level of support crucial to maintaining readiness of the ship’s engines early in the deployment.

“It’s been a great deal of hard work and long hours at sea for the crew. That has certainly been rewarded with the success we’ve seen to date in our deployment,” said Bertholf’s commanding officer, Capt. Mark Frankford. “Any drugs stopped at sea represent lives saved ashore and a loss of resources for the transnational organized crime networks behind these smuggling operations.”

Bertholf’s crew routinely conducts operations throughout the Pacific Ocean. In 2012, the cutter deployed to the Bering Sea to protect Arctic resources, monitor fisheries, and conduct search and rescue. The cutter deployed in 2013 with forces from a number of international partners to conduct defense operations in the world’s largest naval exercise. Bertholf’s unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provide the mission flexibility necessary to operate at great distances from shore keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.

Joint Interagency Task Force South, a National Task Force under U.S. Southern Command, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists U.S. and multi-national law enforcement agencies with interdiction of these activities. These law enforcement operations to interdict smuggling in the Eastern Pacific are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guard personnel or partner nation law enforcement agencies and occur under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District in Alameda.

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