PORT CANAVERAL — Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa are scheduled to offload more than 5,000 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $55 million, at Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal 3, this morning.
The Tampa recovered more than 75 bales of cocaine from the water after the suspected drug smugglers jettisoned the contraband in an attempt to flee law enforcement.
Coast Guard Cutter Tampa received an alert from a Canadian Maritime Patrol Aircraft operating in the area. Once in range, the cutter Tampa launched its embarked helicopter crew from the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based in Jacksonville, Fla., to pursue and stop the vessel. The vessel alluded law enforcement, but cutter Tampa crewmembers were able to locate and recover the contraband.
“The entire operation ran like clockwork,” said Cmdr. Susan Polizzotto, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa. “The cutter and helicopter crews did exceptionally well on this important mission and we recognize the vital support of international partners that enables us to keep dangerous drugs off our streets.”
This interdiction was carried out as 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 transhipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. The international operation focuses on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European Partner nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.
Medium endurance cutters like the Tampa are built for multi-week offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications, and helicopter and pursuit boat operations, which provide a key capability for homeland security operations at sea.
The cutter Tampa is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, VA.