MIAMI – The Coast Guard Cutter Decisive offloaded 3,967 pounds of cocaine seized from two law enforcement cases Wednesday at St. Petersburg, Fla.
The two interdictions were a result of a multi-agency law enforcement effort in support of Operation Unified Resolve.
The drug shipments are estimated to have a combined wholesale value of over $45 million.
On Nov. 25, the Coast Guard and Caribbean regional law enforcement authorities disrupted a maritime illegal drug shipment and seized 2,094 pounds of cocaine south of the Dominican Republic.
While on patrol, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected four men aboard a suspicious vessel using blue tarps in an attempt to conceal a cargo shipment of what appeared to be multiple bales of suspected contraband.
The Coast Guard aircrew observed the crew jettison their cargo overboard and flee the area shortly after being detected.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket to locate and recover the suspected contraband. Dutch Coast Guard authorities in Curacao also responded by launching a Dash-8 maritime surveillance aircraft to assist.
The crew of the Dutch Coast Guard aircraft located the jettisoned cargo during the afternoon of Nov. 26 and vectored in the Nantucket.
The crew of the Nantucket recovered 38 bales of suspected contraband that had spread out over a three nautical mile search area, and completed a field test that revealed the contraband to be cocaine.
The crew of the Nantucket transfered the illegal contraband to the Coast Guard Cutter Decisive for transport to law enforcement officials in the United States for further investigation.
On Nov. 27, the Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group law enforcement authorities apprehended the master of a sailing vessel and seized 1,873 pounds of cocaine during an at-sea interdiction south of the Dominican Republic.
The apprehended master is a Cuban national, who was operating the 34-foot sailing vessel Giselle at the time of the interdiction.
The crew of a patrolling Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft initially detected a suspicious sail-boat.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan were notified of the situation and proceeded to divert the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to interdict the suspect vessel.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine authorities in Puerto Rico were also alerted and responded by launching a Dash-8 maritime surveillance aircraft to assist.
The crew of the CBP aircraft relieved the HC-144 aircraft and vectored in the Key Largo to the sail boat’s position.
The crew of the Key Largo boarded the vessel and discovered 26 packages in plain view. A field test confirmed that the packages contained cocaine.
“Our Coast Guardsmen are committed brave men and women who everyday go far out to sea, away from our immediate shores, to stop the threats that come from the sea and bring those responsible to justice.” said Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. “The outstanding efforts and collaboration between the Coast Guard and Caribbean regional law enforcement partners took these two major cocaine shipments, with a combined weight of over 3,967 pounds, out from the hands of criminals. Our efforts to stem the flow of drugs into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as far off shore as possible is unwavering and will reduce crime across the region.”
Operation Unified Resolve is a Department of Homeland Security multi-agency law enforcement operation to support ongoing efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands being executed under the San Juan Regional Coordinating Mechanism (SJ ReCoM)/Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG). The initiative seeks to forward deploy additional Coast Guard resources and capabilities from the United States, such as C-130 and HC-144 maritime patrol aircraft and additional Coast Guard cutters, to augment locally assigned federal resources and strengthen patrol efforts to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking in and around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Over the past five months, the Coast Guard has seized, under Operation Unified Resolve, in partnership with regional law enforcement authorities in the Caribbean, 20,8330 pounds of cocaine and 6,900 pounds of marijuana during 15 law enforcement cases. The wholesale value of these seizures is worth $262 million.
The Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket is a 110-foot island class patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Coast Guard Cutter Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot island class patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Coast Guard Cutter Decisive is a 210-foot reliance class cutter homeported in Pascagoula, Miss.