Coast Guard interdicts 4 suspected drug smugglers, seizes $35 million cocaine

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsMIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute interdicted 2,921 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of $35 million and detained four suspected Honduran drug smugglers while on patrol in international waters off the coast of Honduras Tuesday.

Coast Guard Cutter Resolute’s embarked helicopter crew from the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based in Jacksonville, Fla., initially detected the four men aboard a 35-foot go-fast boat during a law enforcement patrol.

Watchstanders at the 7th Coast Guard District command center in Miami also diverted the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant to assist in interdicting the go-fast vessel.

During the pursuit of the go-fast vessel, the four suspected smugglers jumped into the water in an attempt to flee the scene. The Resolute’s smallboat crew safely recovered all four persons in the water with no injuries. Crewmembers from the cutter Resolute’s boarding team were able to stop the unmanned go-fast and board the vessel.

During the boarding, Resolute’s boarding team members discovered 53 bales covered in a white powdery substance that later tested positive for cocaine.

The 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 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, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.

Medium endurance cutters like the Resolute and Vigilant are slated for replacement by new Offshore Patrol Cutters. The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the OPCs will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.

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