Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell seizes 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 5 suspected smugglers

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard NewsEASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN – The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell successfully interdicted a drug smuggling vessel, seizing approximately 1,300 pounds of cocaine and taking five suspected smugglers into custody on Sunday, Sept. 16.

Boutwell was on patrol in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South when a Navy maritime patrol aircraft detected a suspicious vessel in international waters approximately 50 miles off the coast of Guatemala. Boutwell was vectored in to investigate. Pursuit boats launched from the cutter intercepted the drug-laden vessel even as the suspected crew was attempting to jettison their contraband overboard and flee.

One of Boutwell’s pursuit boat crews recovered the jettisoned cargo of eight bales, weighing approximately 165 pounds each. The second boat crew pursued, intercepted and stopped the suspected smugglers’ boat.

Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by the Joint Interagency Task Force South 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.

Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell is a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in San Diego, Calif. Sunday’s interdiction was the 20th major drug seizure for the 45-year-old cutter and brings the crew’s total drug disruption amount to approximately 4,500 pounds in the last year.

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