HITRON Milestone: $10 Billion in Interdicted Drugs

7th Coast Guard District NewsJACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During December 2011, the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville surpassed the $10 Billion mark in illegal narcotics interdictions.

Commissioned in 1998, HITRON was America’s first airborne law enforcement unit trained and authorized to employ airborne use of force (AUF) and is the Coast Guard’s only airborne unit that employs disabling fire in support of the counter-drug mission. HITRON prepares personnel, deploys aircraft, and employs airborne use of force against non-compliant vessels within Maritime Drug Transit Zones.

HITRON has multiple crews deployed aboard Coast Guard cutters at any given time. Operating in both the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, HITRON crews deploy more than 1,100 days per year. As part of a cutter’s crew, HITRON helicopter crews work in concert with the cutter law enforcement boarding teams to stop and interdict suspect vessels within the busiest drug transit corridors.

A true team effort, HITRON partners with many other agencies, including maritime patrol aircraft from Customs and Border Protection, the Navy, as well the Joint Interagency Task Force South, the US Drug Enforcement Agency and various South and Central American law enforcement agencies.

During its first year, HITRON intercepted all five go-fasts encountered, interdicting 2,640 pounds of cocaine and 7,000 pounds of marijuana. HITRON has continually adapted its tactics and procedures to combat the evolving tactics of the drug trafficking organizations.

Now, 13 years later, HITRON has successfully completed 209 interdictions of non-compliant vessels transporting illegal contraband resulting in the detention of 645 drug traffickers. These interdictions have kept 412,076 pounds of cocaine, 21,041 pounds of marijuana, 135 pounds of hash oil, 304 pounds of heroin and $8,752,900 in illegal currency, with a total street value $10,064,730,837, from reaching American soil.

“Reaching this milestone is a testament to the sacrifice and hard work of all the men and women who have served at HITRON for the past 13 years and demonstrates the Coast Guard’s great value to the American public,” said Coast Guard Capt. Donna Cottrell, commanding officer of HITRON.

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