Coast Guard interdicts $17 million of cocaine from go-fast vessel

Southeastern Coast Guard News
MIAMI — The Coast Guard intercepted 1,400 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of more than $17 million from a go-fast vessel in the southwest Caribbean Sea, Jan. 24, 2013.

While conducting a law-enforcement patrol, the crew of a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine aircraft located a suspicious go-fast vessel with four persons aboard.

The crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk were diverted to the scene and launched their embarked helicopter crew from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, deployed out of Jacksonville, Fla. The helicopter located the go-fast vessel and witnessed the suspected smugglers jettison the contraband as they continued their pursuit.

Mohawk smallboat crewmembers subsequently located the vessel and conducted a law enforcement boarding while recovering 18 of suspected contraband from the water. The bales later tested positive for cocaine.

The 18 bales of contraband and four suspected smugglers were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant and taken to law enforcement agents ashore.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., rendezvoused with the cutter Valiant offshore, transferred the 17 bales and offloaded the contraband at Base Miami Beach Feb. 19, 2013.

“Seizures at sea are the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep contraband off the streets of America,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, 7th Coast Guard District assistant chief of enforcement. “The crew of the Mohawk and their embarked HITRON helicopter crew flawlessly executed another successful at-sea interdiction. As part of Operation Martillo, they successfully denied drug smugglers from bringing illegal narcotics into the Central American transhipment route and ultimately prevented these drugs from crossing national borders.”

The interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.

The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant is homeported in Mayport, Fla.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk is homeported in Key West, Fla.

Medium endurance cutters like the Mohawk and Valiant are built for multi-week offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications, and helicopter and pursuit boat operations, which provide a key capability for homeland security missions at sea.

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