ALAMEDA, Calif.— The crew of the Alameda-based Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf returned to its homeport Friday after the cutter and its crew seized more than $188 million worth of illegal narcotics during four and a half months of counterdrug operations.
The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf was deployed to the Eastern Pacific in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South, operating off the coast of Central and South America. Bertholf’s crew stopped and seized nine vessels suspected of drug smuggling, detaining 24 suspected narco-traffickers and recovering over 12,500 pounds of illegal narcotics.
“It’s been a long deployment away from family and friends. We’re all very excited to be getting home, but we’re proud of the success we’ve had over the past few months,” said Petty Officer Matthew Burkett, who operates some of cutter’s small boats used to board suspicious vessels.
To achieve such success in interdicting illegal narcotics, the crew of Bertholf works closely with local partner nations as well as Department of Defense assets and other U.S. agencies to detect and identify suspicious vessels. Upon locating such vessels, the crew launches law enforcement teams in small boats to stop and investigate the suspected smugglers. Bertholf also uses embarked aviation assets as a force multiplier to extend its reach.
“Once again, Bertholf’s exceptional record of mission accomplishment is a result of the crew’s exceptional preparation, dedication and pride in their work,” said the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Mark Frankford.
The crew of cutter Bertholf also assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force South mission by processing and transporting suspected narco-traffickers detained by other Coast Guard assets.
Bertholf , the first of the Coast Guard’s newest and most capable multi-mission cutters, operates from South America to the Arctic. Bertholf’s speed, range, and endurance enable the cutter to conduct search and rescue, protect resources, interdict smuggling, and perform other Coast Guard missions, intercepting threats before they reach 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 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. The 11th District encompasses the Southwestern U.S. and coastal waters, as well as offshore waters from California to South America.