Multi-national efforts disrupt drug smuggling attempt

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SAN DIEGO — Multi-national efforts between the U.S., Canada and Mexico prevented an estimated 1,200 pounds of marijuana from reaching U.S. shores when they thwarted a smuggling attempt nearly 100 miles southwest of San Diego, Wednesday evening.

The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft detected a suspicious 35-foot panga boat Wednesday afternoon while on a routine patrol. Coast Guard Cutters Active and Haddock, and the Royal Canadian Navy ship HMCS Calgary, with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment crew aboard, and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft were diverted to interdict the panga.

The crew of U.S. Coast Cutter Haddock tows a seized panga boat into San Diego Bay, Oct. 2, 2014.  An estimated 1,200 pounds of marijuana was seized and two suspects were taken into custody in a multi-nation effort including the U.S., Mexico and Canada. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.)

The crew of U.S. Coast Cutter Haddock tows a seized panga boat into San Diego Bay, Oct. 2, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.)

When the crews arrived on scene, the two suspected smugglers attempted to flee and began throwing contraband and fuel cans overboard. After a brief pursuit, the crews detained the suspects and seized the panga they were aboard.

The Active, Haddock and Calgary crews recovered 22 bales from the water and an additional 28 bales from the panga.

“This drug bust shows the strength and value of our Regional Coordinating Mechanism and international partnerships to thwart the operations of transnational criminal organizations,” said Capt. Michael Eagle, Chief of Response for the 11th Coast Guard District. “Every load stopped means less drugs on our streets and less profits for these criminal organizations to fund their nefarious operations. I commend the aviation and cutter crews for their outstanding response to this ongoing threat.”

Haddock’s crew transported the suspects, contraband and panga to Southern California, meeting U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers arriving Thursday evening.

“It was great hunting from the onset working in concert with a U.S. Coast Guard C-130, the cutters Active and Haddock, and Law Enforcement Detachment,” said Royal Canadian Navy Commander John Wilson, commanding officer of Calgary. “What was particularly pleasing to see was the smooth integration of Calgary’s embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment with my ship’s team within hours of clearing the harbour – the professionalism of the Coast Guard teams that conduct this work day in and day out is an inspiration to our own members. The Royal Canadian Navy relishes these opportunities to be in the frontlines assisting our Allies whenever possible – this is what it is all about, and it’s a very motivating operation,” he said.

Regional Coordinating Mechanisms are comprised of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Offices of Field Operations, Air and Marine and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Coast Guard and other federal, state and local partners working together as force multipliers. ReCoMs utilize the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the U.S. maritime border.

The Haddock is an 87-foot Coast Guard cutter home ported in San Diego. The Active is a 210-foot cutter home ported in Port Angeles, Washington. HMCS Calgary is a Halifax-class frigate home ported in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

Click the photo for more from the operation.

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