Coast Guard offloads more than $12 million worth of cocaine in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk conducted an at-sea contraband transfer with the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute and offload of $12.5 million estimated wholesale value of cocaine at Sector St. Petersburg, Wednesday.

On Nov. 4, the crew abaord the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homported in Charleston, S.C., interdicted a suspicious, Panamanian-flagged fishing vessel north of Colombia. District Seven received permission from the Panamanian Government for a Gallatin crew to board and search the fishing vessel.

U.S. Coast Guardsmen aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat home-ported in St. Petersburg, Fla., offload more than $12 million of cocaine, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, as part of Operation Martillo. Martillo is a joint, interagency and multinational collaborative effort to deny transnational criminal organizations air and maritime access to the littoral regions of the Central American isthmus. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse)

U.S. Coast Guardsmen aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat home-ported in St. Petersburg, Fla., offload more than $12 million of cocaine, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse

During the search, the boarding team discovered 14 bales which later tested positive for cocaine. The Panamanian Government subsequently waived jurisidiction to the United States. Five Colombian suspected smugglers were taken into custody and were later transferred with the contraband to the cutter Resolute.

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 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.

Both the Hawk and the Resolute are homeported in St. Petersburg.

Click the photo for more from the offload.

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