Coast Guard/Navy Team stop $7-million cocaine shipment

Coast Guard Deployable Operations Group NewsSAN DIEGO – A San Diego-based U. S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment embarked and the crew of USS Curts (FFG-38) stopped a fishing vessel carrying approximately 627 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Oct. 6.

While on a routine patrol flight, the Curts’ SH-60B helicopter crew initially sighted the suspicious fishing vessel with five pangas in tow in international waters off the coast of Ecuador.

After spotting the Curts’ helicopter, the crew of the suspect vessel boarded the pangas, got underway and began jettisoning bales.

Joint Coast Guard and Navy boat crews from Curts intercepted the pangas and recovered the jettisoned bales which tested positive for cocaine. The cocaine has a wholesale value of more than $7- million. The Coast Guard LEDET also detained sixteen suspected smugglers.

“This is an example of how multiple government agencies come together to counter the drug threat against the citizens of the United States” said Lt. Max Seda, operations officer of the Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, parent command of the LEDET, based in San Diego, Calif.

Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by the Joint Interagency Task Force, South (JIATF-S) headquartered in Key West, Fla. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.

PACTACLET stopped more than 22,772 pounds of cocaine and 4,134 pounds of marijuana during Fiscal Year 2012.

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