Coast Guard offloads more than $18 million of cocaine in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket, homeported in St. Petersburg, offloaded more than $18 million in cocaine Wednesday at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

The Nantucket received the contraband transfer after the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin and their deployed MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew seized the $18 million in cocaine in the Gulf of Mexico during two separate cases in November in support of Operation Martillo.

Coast Guard crewmembers offload 24 bales of cocaine at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, a 378-foot high endurance cutter homported in Charleston, S.C., and their deployed MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter crew seized more than $18 million in cocaine in the Gulf of Mexico during two separate cases in November in support of Operation Martillo. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse

Coast Guard crewmembers offload 24 bales of cocaine at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse

On Nov. 20, the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin deployed their Dolphin helicopter crew who detected a 25-foot vessel north of Punta de Mosquito, Panama, in international waters. The crew arrived on scene and observed the people aboard the vessel jettisoning packages of suspected contraband overboard. The helicopter crew issued warning shots with employed disabling fire forcing the vessel to stop and the cutter to recover the 14 bales of contraband.

The second seizure occurred on Nov. 25, when Gallatin’s deployed helicopter crew detected a 30-foot fishing vessel northwest of Columbia in international waters.

The crew observed the suspected smugglers jettisoning packages. The Gallatin deployed a smallboat and crew who arrived on scene and recovered 10 bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.

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.

Additional pictures of the offload can be viewed by clicking the photo.

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