U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine agents and interagency partners intercepted more than 3,400 pounds of cocaine during two separate at-sea interdictions off the coast of Central America. The wholesale value of the seized drugs is tens of millions of dollars.
On Sept. 12, a Jacksonville-based OAM aircrew aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning aircraft supporting counter-drug operations in the region detected a suspicious go-fast vessel in waters south of Panama. A CBP P-3 crew provided aerial surveillance as Panamanian law enforcement personnel intercepted the vessel and discovered more than 2,094 pounds of cocaine onboard. Authorities apprehended three individuals and towed the vessel back into port.
On Sept. 13, a CBP P-3 crew located a suspect vessel in international waters hundreds of miles off the coast of El Salvador and coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to interdict the vessel. A U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter’s boarding team gained control of the vessel after its helicopter employed warning shots. Personnel supporting the joint task force arrested three smugglers and recovered 1,388 pounds of cocaine.
Operation Martillo includes the participation of 15 nations that are working together to counter trans-national organized crime and illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by a joint agency task force headquartered in Key West, Florida.
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