Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau returns from counter-drug patrol with 4 tons of cocaine

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard NewsSAN DIEGO – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau recently returned from a counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean with more than four tons of cocaine interdicted by a variety of U.S. patrol assets between late June and mid-August.  The illegal drugs were seized, and 22 suspected smugglers detained, in international waters off the coasts of Central and South America in five separate cases involving vessel and aircraft crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and Customs and Border Protection.

The cases were:

  • Crewmembers of the  Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast, homeported in Warrenton, Ore., seized approximately 130 pounds of cocaine and detained four suspected smugglers after a patrol aircraft spotted a go-fast vessel approximately 80 miles south of Panama, June 20, 2012.
  • Crewmembers of Steadfast seized approximately 1,300 pounds of cocaine and detained six suspected smugglers after a patrol aircraft spotted a fishing vessel jettisoning packages into the water approximately 216 miles south of Guatemala, June 26, 2012.
  • Crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau, homeported in Alameda, Calif., seized approximately 4,100 pounds of cocaine and detained four suspected smugglers after a patrol aircraft spotted a go-fast vessel crew jettisoning packages into the water approximately 126 miles south of Panama, July 24, 2012.
  • Crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, homeported in Seattle, seized approximately 2,400 pounds of cocaine and detained five suspected smugglers after a maritime patrol aircraft spotted a go-fast vessel with packages onboard and the crew jettisoning packages overboard approximately 187 miles south of Panama, Aug. 2, 2012.
  • A detachment from the Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team in San Diego operating from USS Curts, homeported in San Diego, seized approximately 752 pounds of cocaine and detained three suspected smugglers after a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron crew from Jacksonville, Fla., operating from the Cutter Morgenthau, and a Navy helicopter from Curts, spotted a go-fast vessel crew jettisoning packages into the water approximately 167 miles west of Colombia, Aug. 14, 2012.


“I’m proud of the crews of the cutters Morgenthau, Mellon, and Steadfast, USS Curts, the Tactical Law Enforcement Team, as well as the Coast Guard, Navy, and Customs and Border Protection aviators who worked as a team to keep these drugs from reaching our streets,” said Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District. “These maritime law enforcement efforts are vital to homeland security. The vigilant presence of Coast Guard cutters and aircraft, along with the ships and aircraft of our partners is critical to pushing our borders out to enhance safety and security here at home. Every shipment of illicit drugs stopped at sea translates to fewer lives destroyed by drug abuse in our communities, and to fewer resources available to the smugglers to continue their illegal and violent activity.”

Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by the Joint Interagency Task Force, South (JIATF-S) headquartered in Key West, Fla. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.

Morgenthau, commissioned in 1969, is a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in Alameda, Calif. Curts, commissioned in 1983, is a 453-foot guided-missile frigate homeported in San Diego.

 

The 43-year-old Morgenthau, and all Secretary-class high-endurance cutters, are being replaced by eight Legend-class National Security Cutters. The NSCs are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessor, and will allow the Coast Guard to deliver its unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

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