Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma returns home following $90 million cocaine interdiction

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma and Jacksonville, Florida's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron stand for a group photo on the flight deck of the cutter on Dec. 27, 2016. During their Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea 49-day patrol, the crew confiscated approximately 3,130 kilograms of cocaine worth a street value of $90 million. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma and Jacksonville, Florida’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron stand for a group photo on the flight deck of the cutter on Dec. 27, 2016.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

BOSTON — Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma returned to homeport Friday after a 49-day patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Homeported in Kittery, Maine, Tahoma’s crew conducted drug interdiction efforts, strategically intercepting and boarding suspected smuggling vessels, which resulted in the interception and seizure of four open-hulled outboard powered panga-style fishing vessels illegally transporting contraband. The crew confiscated approximately 3,130 kilograms of cocaine worth a street value of $90 million.

In order to optimize the law enforcement readiness and operational effectiveness, Tahoma’s crew embarked and employed an armed helicopter detachment from Jacksonville, Florida’s Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON). The crew also worked alongside United States and international partner agencies to detect and prosecute these cases.

Of the crew’s four seizures, three occurred within a five-day span over the Christmas holiday. Each case required a high-speed chase by the Tahoma’s pursuit boat teams and use of the armed helicopter to disable the engines of fleeing suspect vessels. The efforts of the crews resulted in the interdiction of tons of cocaine that was eventually destined for the streets of our Nation.

The Tahoma’s crew deployed during a period of high flows of illegal drugs in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Tahoma was deployed from its homeport to the waters off the coast of Central America requiring the cutter to make transit both ways through the Panama Canal.  In total, the 270-foot medium-endurance cutter and its 90-plus member crew traveled over 11,500 nautical miles in support of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy and Joint Interagency Task Force South initiatives.

“I’m tremendously pleased with the professionalism, dedication and success of Tahoma’s crew and her assigned armed helicopter detachment,” said Cmdr. Tim Brown, Tahoma’s commanding officer. “They responded expertly to any reported suspect vessels at all hours of the day and night. They also overcame many difficulties like being away from home over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and patrolling for weeks on end without a break. This crew responded with aplomb, helping protect our nation from the violence, death and destruction caused by the trafficking of cocaine to our communities.”

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