Cutter Sequoia recognized by the Drug Enforcement Administration

APRA HARBOR, Guam – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia, homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam, received a certificate of appreciation from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for outstanding contributions in the field of drug law enforcement Tuesday.

The Sequoia first interdicted the vessel, King Yue 1, on the high seas that had no identifiable markings in December 2009. The King Yue 1, homeported in Hong Kong, China was suspected to be transporting cocaine from South America to China.

The Sequoia tracked the vessel for 17 days through the Philippine Sea from Micronesia to the South China Sea near Hong Kong. Authorities from the DEA, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing coordinated with the People’s Republic of China to board the vessel and seize any contraband.

“This was an unprecedented event that required cooperation and coordination at the highest levels of government,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Salas, the commanding officer of the Sequoia.

Prior to being boarded by two Chinese coast guard vessels, the crew of the King Yue 1 cast approximately 2,000 pounds of cocaine overboard. The crew of the King Yue 1 were arrested and brought to Hong Kong.

The Sequoia’s crew was recognized for its persistent pursuit of the vessel which prevented the landing of 1 metric ton of cocaine ashore.

“Although we didn’t seize the contraband ourselves, we’re happy that we interrupted their smuggling operation,” said Ensign Andrew Haley, the operations officer aboard the Sequoia.

The crew of the Sequoia, a 225-foot buoy tender with a crew of 50, routinely carries out the Coast Guard’s missions of law enforcement, maritime safety, maritime mobility, environmental protection and national defense. Their area of operation spans the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

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