The US Coast Guard Cutter Legare offloaded approximately 2,800 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $93 million Thursday morning at Base Miami Beach, Florida.
The offload is a result of two successful drug interdictions in the Caribbean since Aug. 23.
While on routine patrol, the crew of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine patrol aircraft spotted a go-fast vessel with suspicious packages aboard north of the Gulf of Uraba on Aug. 23. Deployed armed helicopter crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Bear and Coast Guard Cutter Legare were launched and located the suspected smuggling vessel.
During the pursuit, the helicopter crewmembers witnessed the suspected smugglers jettison several packages into the water. A smallboat crew from the cutter Bear arrived on scene with the now stopped go-fast vessel and conducted a boarding. Four suspected smugglers were taken into custody, and 32 bales of contraband, which later tested positive for cocaine, were retrieved from the water. The Bear crewmembers destroyed the go-fast vessel as a hazard to navigation
During a second interdiction, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine patrol aircraft crew spotted a suspicious vessel off the coast of Panama Aug. 28. The crew of the Legare boarded the 165-foot Panamanian-flagged coastal freighter Hope II, and through a search of the ship, located approximately 1,493 kilograms of contraband, which tested positive as cocaine. The eight crewmembers aboard the Hope II and the vessel were taken into custody and will be turned over to U.S. officials for further investigation.
These interdictions were 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.