Cutter Stratton returns home after interdicting $350 million of cocaine and heroin

Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands in with Coast Guard men and women prior to a drug offload in San Diego, Calif., Sept. 20, 2017. The Coast Guard and its interagency partners seized over 455,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $6 billion wholesale in Fiscal Year 2017 breaking the U.S. record for most cocaine seized in a single year. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandyn Hill)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands in with Coast Guard men and women prior to a drug offload in San Diego, Calif., Sept. 20, 2017.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandyn Hill)

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returned to Coast Guard Island following a deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean for a 75-day counterdrug patrol, Saturday.

Stratton’s crew patrolled international waters off the coasts of Central and South America, disrupting Transnational Organized Crime networks through joint interagency counterdrug operations.

During the patrol, Stratton’s crew interdicted 11 drug smuggling vessels and seized more than 18,500 pounds of cocaine and heroin with an estimated value of more than $350 million, and detained more than 40 suspected smugglers for prosecution in U.S. courts.

“Each crew member contributed to the collective success of Stratton’s patrol,” said Capt. Craig Wieschhorster, the commanding officer of the Stratton. “This was a complete team effort that takes an all hands on deck commitment. Stopping illicit movements at sea, where the Coast Guard has the tactical advantage, starves criminal organizations of a revenue stream, promotes stability in Central American countries and eases migration pressures on our U.S. Southwest border. Border security starts at sea. Stopping suspected smugglers and bringing them to justice in U.S. courts allows the collective interagency effort to break these criminal networks.”

Stratton’s crew offloaded 50,550 pounds of cocaine and heroin, worth an estimated $679.3 million, in San Diego on Sept. 20. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Representatives Duncan Hunter and Darryl Issa and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft participated in an offload event, announcing a record-breaking year of drug interdictions by the Coast Guard and U.S. interagency partners for Fiscal Year 2017.

The cumulation of offloaded drugs was the result of 25 separate seizures conducted by four Coast Guard cutters, including Stratton, and a Navy ship since the first interdiction Aug. 2. This offload marked more than 455,034 pounds of cocaine worth over $6.1 billion that has been intercepted by the Coast Guard in Fiscal Year 2017, besting the service’s previous record of 443,000 pounds set in Fiscal Year 2016. The Coast Guard and its interagency partners are still compiling drug removal numbers for Fiscal Year 2017 and will release a final total after Oct. 1.

Stratton is the third National Security Cutter to be brought into service. Known as the Legend class, National Security Cutters are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and 4,600 long tons in displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150.

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