JACKSONVILLE — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Valiant returned home to Naval Station Mayport, Wednesday, after the cutter and its crew seized more than $141 million worth of illegal narcotics during an eight-week counter-drug deployment.
The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant was deployed to the Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South, operating off the coast of Central and South America. Valiant’s crew stopped and seized eight vessels suspected of drug smuggling, detaining 23 suspected narco-traffickers and recovering more than 4.7 tons of illegal narcotics.
“Eight interdictions in a single deployments is incredible,” said Cmdr. Adam Chamie, commanding officer of Cutter Valiant. “This patrol represents the most interdictions by a Valiant crew in her 49-year history. We were all very proud to be a part of it.”
Valiant’s success on this deployment follows the achievements of her Fall 2015 patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, during which the cutter and its crew seized over 3.9 tons of illegal narcotics with a street value of nearly $117 million. Both patrols yielded more than $258 million in contraband from a total of 13 vessels and 39 suspected narco-traffickers detained for prosecution.
These counter-drug interdictions were carried out as part of Operation Martillo, an international operation focused 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 illicit trafficking.
“This type of operation has global and local impact,” said Chamie. “The illegal drug trade funds Transnational Criminal Organizations, which leads to increased violence, terrorism and instability in the Western Hemisphere. By seizing the drugs and prosecuting the suspected smugglers, we’re helping defeat these TCOs. And here at home, we’re making it just a little bit harder to bring drugs into our neighborhoods. For me, that means we’re making a positive impact on my daughter’s school right here in Jacksonville Beach.”
During the course of the patrol, Valiant took part in a Partner Nation Engagement with the Panamanian National Naval and Air Service. The day-long event took place near Panama City and was comprised of three training sessions, including law enforcement control techniques, small boat tactics, and voice and visual communications. After the training, Valiant’s cooks prepared an American-style BBQ for all participants, and then both groups played a friendly soccer match.
Joint Interagency Task Force South, under U.S. Southern Command, oversees the detection 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.