Coast Guard and Navy team up to seize $9-million in cocaine

Coast Guard Deployable Operations Group NewsCrews from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722) and the guided-missile frigate USS Curts (FFG 38), with an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), stopped a 25-foot “go-fast” vessel carrying more than 750 pounds of drugs in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Aug. 14.

While on a routine patrol flight, Morgenthau’s deployed helicopter crew initially sighted the suspicious “go-fast” vessel, and another helicopter crew from Curts later spotted the same speedboat stopped in international waters about 125 miles west of Colombia.

Once spotted by the Curts’ helicopter, the suspect vessel got underway and its crew began jettisoning bales. A Coast Guard precision marksman from the LEDET fired warning shots and then had to use disabling fire into the fleeing vessel’s engines to stop it.

Boat crews from Curts and Morgenthau recovered the jettisoned bales which tested positive for cocaine.  The total weight of the cocaine was approximately 752 pounds with an estimated value of over $9-million.  A Coast Guard boarding team detained three suspected smugglers.

“This was an excellent joint operation, showcasing the great teamwork between the Coast Guard and the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. William Arritt, executive officer of the Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, parent command of the LEDET, based in San Diego, Calif.  “Every case we work together sharpens our skills for the next operation.”

Including this seizure, Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Teams have stopped more than 51,800 pounds of cocaine and 9,300 pounds of marijuana so far in fiscal year 2012.

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.

Morgenthau, commissioned in 1969, is a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in Alameda, Calif. Curts, commissioned in 1983, is a 453-foot guided-missile frigate homeported in San Diego.

The 43-year-old Morgenthau and all Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by eight Legend-class, National Security Cutters. The NSCs are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessor, and will allow the Coast Guard to deliver its unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

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