As part of a series of patrols fighting transnational organized crime operations around Mexico and South America, the US Coast Guard seized cocaine and heroin worth over $300 million. The drugs were collected by multiple Coast Guard cutters patrolling the waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The drugs were offloaded on Tuesday, November 14th as the US Coast Guard Cutter Spencer returned from its three-month voyage to the Pacific.
Seven separate US Coast Guard patrols contributed to the massive haul of drugs interdicted from fourteen different drug smuggling vessels:
- Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Spencer was responsible for two cases, seizing about 3,000 kg of cocaine.
- CGC Thetis was responsible for one case, seizing about 1,000 kg of cocaine.
- CGC Vigorous was responsible for one case, seizing about 1,150 kg of cocaine.
- CGC Aspen was responsible for one case, seizing about 100 kg of cocaine.
- CGC Alert was responsible for six cases, seizing about 3,300 kg of cocaine and 23 kg of heroin.
- CGC James was responsible for two cases, seizing about 700 kg of cocaine.
- CGC Steadfast was responsible for one case, seizing about 950 kg of cocaine.
In the end, it was the Boston-based CGC Spencer that collected the drugs from the different cutters and hauled them off to Port Everglades. Cdr. John Mctamney, commanding officer of the CGC Spencer, spoke about the importance of the effort:
“This offload today is not just the result of one unit, but the combined efforts of multiple Coast Guard cutters, aircraft and support, as well as that of our partners and allied men and women who continue to work day and night to stop these criminal organizations from profiting off transnational crime and smuggling. While this offload represents approximately 10 tons of illicit drugs that will never hit our streets, it also represents a significant depletion to the cash flow to these criminal organizations.”
According to Coast Guard officials, the US and its allies have increased their presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean as well as in the Caribbean Basin, which are major drug transit zones for cartels operating out of Central and South American countries.
Cdr. Mctamney also spoke about the difficulties of moving against drug smugglers at sea, saying that “we’re launching the helicopter, we’re launching small boats from the cutter and we’re maneuvering towards a vessel which is typically not lit at all with the required navigation lights and is trying to evade us at a high rate of speed.”
The CGC Spencer stayed busy in other ways during its 90-day voyage before returning its 100-person crew (13 officers and 87 enlisted personnel) to Boston, the Spencer’s home base. It also participated in the 2017 Arctic Guardian Search and Rescue (SAR) Exercise in Reyjkavik, Iceland. Eight Arctic nations also participated in the exercises to hone best practices for potential multi-national search and rescue responses in the Arctic region.
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