Late Wednesday night, the crew of the National Security Cutter Bertholf conducted the cutter’s first drug bust and disrupted a major drug smuggling operation in international waters. Two suspected drug smuggling boats, four suspected smugglers and a bale of cocaine were seized as evidence some 80 miles off the coast of Guatemala.
The incident began when a group of four suspicious ‘pangas’ were spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft and alerted the Bertholf. A Coast Guard helicopter launched from the cutter and a marksman aboard was able to shoot out the engines of two speedboats and fire warning shots at the other two during the pursuit as bales were being thrown overboard from all four boats. Shortly after, Bertholf’s interceptor boats apprehended two of the boats and detained the four people onboard.
A search for additional jettisoned bales is on-going. The apprehended individuals and evidence are being held aboard the Bertholf until final disposition of the case can be determined.
The Bertholf has been patrolling the area as part of an ongoing interagency and international counter drug effort. The Coast Guard worked closely with Guatemalan officials during the interdiction.
Read more at the Department of Homeland Security Leadership Journal or in the press release.
Stay tuned for pictures and video of the bust