MIAMI — A Coast Guard helicopter crew, working under the direction of Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, assisted in the seizure of 5,050 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated wholesale value of $4.6 million Wednesday.
While on routine patrol, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft located a 35-foot go-fast vessel transiting at a high rate of speed without navigation lights. A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a Royal Bahamas Police Force boatcrew with Drug Enforcement Administration agents aboard launched to pursue the vessel.
At 12:53 a.m. the RBPF boatcrew and DEA agents intercepted the go-fast vessel, took six suspected smugglers into custody and seized the contraband.
“This is another great achievement by OPBAT and highlights how our joint efforts reduce the negative impacts illicit trafficking has on the United States and the Bahamas,” said Cmdr. Mark Driver, OPBAT director for Coast Guard aviation operations.
The suspects, vessel, and narcotics were taken to Nassau, Bahamas for processing.
Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos is a combined Coast Guard, DEA, CBP, and Government of Bahamas partnership to combat drug smuggling to and from the Bahamas. The OPBAT Operations Center, located in the American Embassy in downtown Nassau, is responsible for initiating and prosecuting law enforcement cases in the Bahamian area of responsibility. In addition, OPBAT assets regularly assist with prosecuting human smuggling and search and rescue cases in the area.