Coast Guard stops 2 go-fast vessels carrying cocaine off Panama

MIAMI – Coast Guard crews stopped two go-fast vessels carrying cocaine and assault weapons off the coast of Panama.

While conducting a routine law-enforcement patrol March 31, a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Branch P-3 fixed-wing aircraft crew from Jacksonville, Fla., notified the Coast Guard after locating a suspicious go-fast vessel.

An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville, embarked with the Coast Guard Cutter Forward, was launched and used warning shots and disabling fire to bring the vessel to a halt after the go-fast crew failed to comply with orders to stop. A law-enforcement crew from the Forward boarded the vessel located nearly 2,900 pounds of cocaine on the vessel and detained the five suspects aboard.

The five suspects and contraband were turned over to authorities in Panama for further investigation.

In a separate case, crewmembers aboard the cutter Morgenthau located a suspicious go-fast vessel with five suspects aboard March 19. An embarked HH-65 helicopter crew from HITRON used warning shots and disabling fire to bring the vessel to a halt after the crew aboard the go-fast failed to stop as ordered. A law enforcement crew from the cutter boarded the vessel and located more than 5,000 pounds of cocaine and two AK-47 assault rifles. The five suspects aboard the go-fast were also detained.

The five suspects and a representative sample of cocaine were turned over to authorities in Panama for further investigation.

The cutter Forward is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va.
The cutter Morgenthau is a 378-foot high endurance cutter homeported in Alameda, Calif.

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