The crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant offloaded 328 kilograms of cocaine and 3,100 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated wholesale value of $13.7 million at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Florida, Friday.
On May 22, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bear and Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant responded to reports from a Columbian Air Force maritime patrol aircraft of a suspicious go-fast vessel northwest of Columbia. The go-fast began heading toward Columbian shores and beached itself on St. Lucia Island. Crewmembers of the Vigilant recovered 14 bales of jettisoned contraband that tested positive for cocaine.
Five days later, the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute’s embarked Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) helicopter located another suspicious go-fast northeast of Panama. The helicopter observed the go-fast jettisoning packages over the side as the cutter deployed its small boat. Resolute’s law enforcement team recovered 62 bales of contraband testing positive for marijuana and boarded the vessel. Four suspected smugglers were taken into Coast Guard custody and are being transferred to federal law enforcement officials in Miami.
These interdictions were 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 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 agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.