US Coast Guard NSC home after seizing 10 tons of cocaine

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) patrols above the Arctic Circle near the Bering Strait in support of Operation Arctic Shield 2018, July 10, 2018. Photo: US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard’s national security cutter USCGC Strato returned home after a deployment in which operations spanned from the Arctic Ocean to the coasts of South America.

Stratton’s crew began their deployment in the Arctic Ocean in support of Coast Guard District Seventeen and operation Arctic Shield.

Deploying with a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and an aircrew from Air Station San Francisco, Stratton provided maritime domain awareness in waters off the north slope of Alaska, ensuring the sovereignty over US waters in the region.

Stratton also served as a search and rescue platform and conducted living marine resource and commercial vessel safety regulation enforcement.

Stratton additionally patrolled international waters off the coasts of Central and South America conducting counterdrug operations with an aircrew and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based in Jacksonville, Florida.

The crew interdicted seven drug smuggling vessels in 26 days, including three low-profile go-fast vessels. The interdictions yielded more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine seized by Stratton’s crew worth an estimated $235 million wholesale and detained 23 suspected smugglers for prosecution in U.S. and partner nation courts.

Stratton crewmembers offloaded more than 22,000 pounds of cocaine Wednesday in San Diego. The cocaine offloaded was seized from international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean by Coast Guard cutters Stratton (WMSL-752), Seneca (WMEC-906) and Active (WMEC-618) from late August to mid-September.

“This offload reflects the outstanding efforts of the Coast Guard and our partner agencies to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations,” said Capt. Craig J. Wieschhorster, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton. “These interdiction results take hundreds of millions of dollars away from these criminal networks that work to undermine the rule of law in South and Central America which increases migration pressures on the U.S. southern border. Keeping this product off the streets of America saves lives, and I am very proud of the efforts of my crew.”

Throughout the patrol, Stratton leveraged a Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) for mission support in both operational theatres. The sUAS provided the crew real-time video footage through aerial surveillance and expanded Stratton’s capabilities to support operations across all Coast Guard missions. The real-time video increases situational awareness enabling the crew to make more informed decisions and assists with mission planning, efficiency and crew safety.

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