Coast Guard Cutter Legare to offload more than $93 million in cocaine

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MIAMI — The Coast Guard Cutter Legare is scheduled to offload approximately 2,800 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $93 million this morning at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Florida.

The offload is a result of two successful drug interdiction in the Caribbean since August 23.

While on routine patrol, the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine patrol aircraft spotted a go-fast vessel with suspicious packages aboard north of the Gulf of Uraba on Aug. 23. Deployed armed helicopter crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Bear and Coast Guard Cutter Legare were launched and located the suspected smuggling vessel. During the pursuit, the helicopter crewmembers witnessed the suspected smugglers jettison several packages into the water. A smallboat crew from the cutter Bear arrived on scene with the now stopped go-fast vessel and conducted a boarding. Four suspected smugglers were taken into custody, and 32 bales of contraband, which later tested positive for cocaine, were retrieved from the water. The Bear crewmembers destroyed the go-fast vessel as a hazard to navigation

During a second interdiction, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine patrol aircraft crew spotted a suspicious vessel off the coast of Panama Aug. 28. The crew of the 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.

These interdictions were part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies, to counter illicit trafficking.

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