U.S. Navy Carries Out Four Drug Busts in Four Days

USS Lassen returns to Naval Station Mayport following her recent deployment, June 14 (USN)

Published Jun 19, 2020 8:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Over the course of four days and four interdictions at the end of May, the destroyer USS Lassen and the LCS USS Detroit intercepted a combined 112 bales of suspected contraband worth over $79.6 million. 

While on patrol May 24 and May 26, Lassen and her helicopter team intercepted two go-fast boats with the help of an embarked Coast Guard LEDET team. On May 24 and May 27, Detroit made two separate interdictions with the assistance of a Navy maritime patrol aircraft. Detroit employed one of her embarked helicopters for overwatch and a LEDET team for boarding.

Together, Lassen and Detroit recovered 70 bales of cocaine totaling about two tonnes. Its value is estimated at about $76 million. Lassen also recovered 42 bales of marijuana with a value of about $4 million. 

Cutter Vigilant seizes over three tonnes of cocaine

On Monday, the Coast Guard cutter Vigilant had an even bigger bust, capturing 122 bales of cocaine in back-to-back interdictions off Costa Rica. 

The forward-deployed helicopter crew aboard the Vigilant successfully disabled the first go-fast vessel and spotted the crew throwing packages overboard. Once on scene, the boarding team found four people aboard and recovered 77 bales containing 4,200 pounds of cocaine.

Immediately following the first interdiction, the helicopter crew and a separate cutter boarding team headed off to intercept another go-fast vessel with five people aboard. The helicopter crew disabled the second go-fast vessel and again spotted the crew throwing packages overboard. Vigilant’s boarding team apprehended five people and recovered 45 bales containing about 2,600 pounds of cocaine.

The drugs recovered during both of Vigilant's interdictions has an estimated wholesale value of nearly $120 million. The nine detained suspects will be prosecuted by the Middle District of Florida.