Wilmington cutter to return after interdicting nearly 3,000 pounds of cocaine

Coast Guard District 5 NewsWILMINGTON, N.C. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence is scheduled to return to its homeport here Tuesday, after interdicting nearly 3,000 pounds of cocaine while patrolling the Caribbean Sea.

The Diligence crew departed Wilmington Aug. 20 bound for the Caribbean to support the Coast Guard’s 7th District with routine law enforcement and search and rescue patrols.

While conducting a patrol, Diligence crewmembers located a fishing vessel in the Eastern Caribbean Sea Sept. 16. Diligence crewmembers made a plain-view discovery and retrieved 54 individually wrapped packages that tested positive for cocaine. The cocaine weighed 119 pounds and has an estimated street value of $1.5 million.

The contraband and five detainees were transferred to the District of U.S. Virgin Islands.

On Sept. 3, Diligence crewmembers located a 35-foot fishing vessel in the Western Caribbean Sea. The crew stopped the vessel in order for Diligence’s boarding team to conduct a Right of Visit boarding in accordance with international law.

The boarding team made a plain-view discovery of suspicious packages testing positive for cocaine.

The Diligence crew was able to detain four suspected smugglers aboard the vessel and prevent the trafficking of 2,808 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $34 million.

“These interdictions were conducted during joint operations with Dutch and French authorities and highlight the importance and effectiveness of international partnerships as we work to stem the flow of illegal narcotics,” said Cmdr. Douglas Goodwin, Diligence’s commanding officer. “Additionally, the professionalism and proficiency of Diligence’s crew were critical to our success in interdicting these vessels.”

The detainees were transferred to federal law enforcement officials at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The contraband was offloaded at Coast Guard Sector Key West, Fla., Friday.

The Diligence’s crew is scheduled to pull into port at approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday.

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