Coast Guard Cutter Seneca returns home following counter-drug patrol

Crewmembers from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca inspect a suspected drug smuggling vessel in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean Monday, August 20, 2018. The low-profile craft was one of several vessels interdicted by the cutter on a 50-day patrol in the region that resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,840 kilograms of cocaine and 15 kilograms of marijuana. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Crewmembers from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca inspect a suspected drug smuggling vessel in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean Monday, August 20, 2018.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

BOSTON — The crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Seneca returned Tuesday to their homeport of Boston following a 50-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Seneca crewmembers and a tactical law enforcement detachment team conducted multiple interdictions while patrolling international waters off the coast of Central America and South America in support of the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South). The interdictions resulted in more than 1,840 kilograms of cocaine and 35 pounds of marijuana seized with an estimated value of $61 million street value.

Throughout the patrol, Seneca intercepted four vessels suspected of smuggling illegal contraband; two of the vessels interdicted by Seneca were low-profile go-fast vessels. Low-profile go-fast vessels are designed to traffic large quantities of illicit contraband by riding low in the water in an effort to evade detection by law enforcement authorities.

Seneca also intercepted a fishing vessel suspected of international drug trafficking; after several hours of searching, the boarding team discovered a hidden compartment containing approximately 500 kilograms of cocaine valued at $16.5 million.

The efforts by the crew during the counterdrug patrol will aid federal investigators within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security as they continue their work dismantling transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) pervasive in Central America, Mexico and South America.

“I am extremely proud of this crew and their efforts,” said Cmdr. John Christensen, Seneca’s commanding officer. “In just one interdiction we seized over 50 times the amount of contraband seized along the southwest border in a given month, significantly impacting the economic engine of these transnational criminal organizations. Yet, we need more resources. The 220 metric tons of cocaine the Coast Guard seizes at sea per year represents only a small fraction of the total exports via maritime means.”

As a part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy, the Coast Guard has increased its presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Basin. Joint Interagency Task Force-South works with the Coast Guard by detecting and monitoring suspicious vessels until the Coast Guard can arrive on scene. When in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard performs counter drug-interdictions in accordance with international law, under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District.

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