Coast Guard Cutter Stratton departs for Eastern Pacific counter-narcotic patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Garrett Raitt

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Garrett Raitt

ALAMEDA, California – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL-752) got underway from Coast Guard Island Saturday for a months-long deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, where the crew will patrol international waters off Central and South America to intercept and deter drug trafficking efforts.

The cutter is currently conducting training and an at-sea health evaluation to ensure the crew is coronavirus-free and fully ready for operations.

“Times of crisis are when the nation counts on the U.S. Coast Guard and other military services to perform, ” said Capt. Bob Little, Stratton’s commanding officer. “Cutter Stratton is capable of a wide range of homeland and national security missions that are vital during a national emergency. Our crew understands the importance of sustaining these missions now, more than ever. It’s never easy to leave your families behind, and this deployment is no exception. Our families will be carrying a particularly large burden while we are away, but their resilience is at the center of our ability to provide maritime security for the nation.”

In fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted 236 separate drug events, detained 611 suspected smugglers and removed more than 458,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $6.1 billion.

Approximately one in five global drug-related deaths occur in the U.S, and drugs have killed more than 700 million Americans since 2000 and cost the U.S. $193 billion in crime, health, safety and lost productivity annually. The drug trade also funds cartels’ illegal activities in their home countries, spreading corruption and instability throughout the region.

The Stratton will be deployed in support of Campaign Martillo, The U.S.’s whole-of-government effort to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, which includes efforts of 16 U.S. agency partners, including the Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, DEA, HSI, and U.S Attorneys in California, Florida and Puerto Rico, New York, Texas, Alabama and Ohio.

Campaign Martillo also includes the participation of 21 nations who work together to counter cartels and illicit trafficking traveling via air or waters of the Western Hemisphere.

The campaign is led by Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers traveling via air and seas and supports U.S. and multi-national law enforcement agencies with interdictions.

The actual U.S.-led at sea law enforcement boardings are conducted by trained Coast Guard members under the tactical control of the Coast Guard’s 11th district headquartered in Alameda.

“It is critically important the Coast Guard continues our life-saving work during this national emergency,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander, Pacific Area. “Our missions ensure the safety of Americans and the security of our maritime borders, and they enable the safe flow of commerce into U.S. ports. In this challenging COVID-19 environment, we have armed our members, like the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, with the necessary training and equipment to prevent exposure to the virus, and we made sure their families back home are supported.”

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