The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Active seized an estimated 2,300 pounds of cocaine, worth approximately $37 million, in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean some 140 miles off the coast of Panama late last month.
Active, homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., was on routine patrol in the region when it was directed to intercept a suspicious Panamanian fishing vessel sighted earlier by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection P-3 aircraft. A Coast Guard boarding team was launched as Active approached the fishing vessel. During an inspection of the vessel, the boarding team discovered more than 40 burlap sacks filled with cocaine. The fishing boat, the contraband, and five suspected smugglers were turned over to Panamanian authorities.
“I am extremely proud of this crew. They have continually lived up to the cutter’s nickname, the ‘Li’l Tough Guy’,” said Cmdr. Philip Crigler, Active’s commanding officer. “Through their tenacity we have had great success on this patrol keeping illegal drugs from reaching the shores of the United States.”
The Coast Guard deploys assets to both the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea in coordination with other law enforcement agencies and partner nations in the regions to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. Overall coordination of surveillance and patrols is done by an interagency task force based in Florida. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda.
Press Release, April 24, 2014; Image: USCG