US Coast Guardsmen offloaded more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine at Naval Base San Diego and were recognized by a senior Coast Guard official for their role in counter drug missions during a 90-day deployment on Monday.
The crew of Cutter Boutwell turned the cocaine, worth more than $423 million wholesale, over to agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency. The drugs were seized and 55 suspects were apprehended during 18 separate interdictions by U.S. Coast Guard and Navy forces off the coast of Central and South America as part of Operation Martillo. Six of the interdictions were made by the crew of the Cutter Boutwell who received the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for their role in the operation.
Boutwell’s crew coordinated with U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and partner-nation assets to execute 15 go-fast pursuits resulting in the interdiction of six drug laden vessels and disruption of nine additional cases. The crew of Boutwell seized more than 5,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $75 million and detained 19 suspected smugglers.
Operation Martillo, or Hammer, is one component in the U.S. Government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the spread of transnational organized crime in Central America and the use of Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, cash, and human trafficking.
The narcotics aboard Boutwell were intercepted by a variety U.S. forces operating in the Eastern Pacific including Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf from Coast Guard Base Alameda, Calif.; Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, USS McClusky, and USS Vandergrift from Naval Base San Diego; USS Ingraham from Naval Station Everett, Wash.; Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South from Miami; and Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron from Jacksonville, Fla.
Press Release, October 07, 2014; Image: USCG