Coast Guard Seizes Cocaine and Marijuana
Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge, a 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter homeported at Sector Miami, offload approximately 1,500 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated wholesale value of $23 million, in St. Petersburg, Fla., Monday, March 17, 2014.
This 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.
Earlier, on March 12, during a patrol in the western Caribbean, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa detected a suspicious go-fast vessel moving at a high rate of speed in international waters. A Customs and Border Patrol Maritime Patrol aircraft provided oversight of the suspected vessel and the Tampa's onboard helicopter launched to pursue the vessel. Upon arriving on scene, the helicopter crew fired warning shots effectively stopping the vessel.
A Coast Guard boarding team from the Tampa subsequently boarded the vessel and discovered 695 packages hidden inside the vessel's hull which later tested positive for cocaine.
"This seizure highlights the hard work and dedication of our crews in stopping the illegal flow of drugs in the Caribbean," said Cmdr. Clinton Carlson, the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa's commanding officer. "This interdiction demonstrates the effectiveness of our federal and interdiction partnerships to keep dangerous drugs off our streets.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Coast Guard and Customs & Border Protection worked together to track and interdict a panga boat carrying approximately 6,900 pounds of marijuana with three men onboard approximately 140 miles south of San Diego, last Saturday night.
A CBP Office of Air and Marine Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) and Coast Guard air and surface crews tracked the panga off the Southern California coast before a Coast Guard Station San Diego 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew interdicted the panga.
The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Haddock crew arrived on scene and conducted a law enforcement boarding and discovered 265 bales of marijuana aboard.
The cutter crew transported the marijuana, suspected smugglers and the seized panga to San Diego Sunday afternoon.