Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta Disco, public affairs specialist, and Lt. Ari Fitzwater, CGC Edisto commanding officer, contributed to this post
The Coast Guard interrupted a suspected drug smuggling operation about 40 miles from San Diego last Friday, seizing 25 large bales of marijuana weighing almost a ton.
During a routine air patrol a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento sighted a vessel off the coast of Mexico heading north in international waters. The vessel was operating at speeds in excess of 35 knots without navigation lights, raising the suspicion of the aircrew. They alerted the closest Coast Guard cutter, the Edisto .
As Mexican authorities were being notified, the Edisto diverted to intercept the vessel. As the Edisto set its course and brought engines up to flank speed, the aircrew saw suspicious items floating in the water near where the vessel had been sighted.
Unable to intercept the speeding boat as it evaded authorities into Mexican Territorial Waters, the Edisto proceeded to locate the suspected jettisoned contraband. With the help of the powerful spotlights from the aircraft and Edisto, the cutter’s small boat began retrieving bale after bale of contraband, each weighing approximately 40 to 60 pounds with some closer to 80 pounds. After illuminating the entire area with flares, Edisto confirmed no further contraband was in the water.
The final count was 25 bales, which took up the majority of the open deck space on the 110-foot cutter. The bales later tested positive for marijuana.
“The successful outcome of this interdiction is the direct result of the outstanding teamwork that happens in the Coast Guard every day,” said Lt. Ari Fitzwater, Edisto‘s commanding officer.
The bales of marijuana were offloaded from the Edisto on Monday and custody was transferred to members of Maritime Task Force San Diego.