Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau nabs two tons of cocaine

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard NewsEASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN – Law enforcement crews aboard the Alameda-based Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau seized more than 4,000 pounds of cocaine from a go-fast boat and apprehended four suspects Tuesday, July 24, 2012, during a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific.

It all began when a maritime patrol aircraft flying above international waters off the coast of Panama spotted a speeding boat in the early morning hours. Suspicious, the aircrew notified the cutter, which was patrolling nearby. As the Morgenthau neared the area and spotted the target, it deployed its onboard helicopter and two small boats to intercept the speeding boat.

When the helicopter flew above the speeding boat, the vessel’s crew began to throw bales of suspected contraband overboard. Despite being ordered to stop by the Coast Guard, the go-fast boat crew continued. Morgenthau’s embarked helicopter and flight crew from the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based out of Jacksonville, Florida, provided the unique capability needed to quickly stop the go-fast boat before it could evade prosecution; the helicopter disabled the boat by firing a precision rifle at its outboard engines.

The Morgenthau’s law enforcement crew then took custody of the suspects and recovered the floating bales which tested positive for cocaine.

“These very large seizures at-sea are the most effective way to keep cocaine off the streets of America,” said Capt. Gregory Burg, Commanding Officer aboard the Morgenthau. “Our incredibly dedicated group of sailors continue to leave their families for months at a time to provide this vital service to the nation.”

Commissioned on March 10, 1969 the Morgenthau has a complement crew of approximately 165 men and women whose missions include search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, fisheries and maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection and homeland security.

The 43-year-old Morgenthau and the 11 other original Secretary class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by eight Legend class, national security cutters. The national security cutters are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessors, 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. The first three of these new cutters share the homeport of Alameda with Morgenthau.

The Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of the U.S. Southern Command, is responsible for the overall coordination of the counter-drug mission in the Eastern Pacific. 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, based in Alameda, Calif., or by law enforcement agencies of partner nations in the region.

Operation Martillo (Spanish for hammer) is a component of the U.S. government’s coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.

Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau remains on patrol in the eastern Pacific.

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