The crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter Decisive offloaded approximately 1,328 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of nearly $44 million at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Tuesday.
During an Operation Martillo patrol on Nov. 29, crewmembers from the Decisive detected a 170-foot bulk freighter motor vessel northeast of Punta San Blas, Panama.
After communicating with the suspect vessel the cutter Decisive launched a small-boat crew to stop and board the motor vessel based on suspicion of illicit trafficking. During the boarding, crewmembers located contraband in a void space which tested positive for cocaine.
Decisive’s boarding team members detained seven suspected smugglers and seized 1,328 kilograms of cocaine contraband.
One suspected smuggler was transferred to law enforcement officials in Panama.
The other six suspected smugglers were turned over to federal law enforcement officials in St. Petersburg.
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.
Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.
Press release, Image: US Navy