White House recognition for setting the bar in drug interdiction

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell was recently recognized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s U.S. Interdiction Coordinator for a drug bust and publishing of a comprehensive guide for strategic, tactical planning and execution of the counter-drug mission.

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The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell stands at attention among pallets of seized cocaine during an award ceremony aboard the Boutwell at Naval Base San Diego, Oct. 6, 2014. The Boutwell returned from a 90-day counter drug patrol in which they made six drug interdictions. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell)
The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell stands at attention among pallets of seized cocaine during an award ceremony aboard the Boutwell at Naval Base San Diego, Oct. 6, 2014. The Boutwell returned from a 90-day counter drug patrol in which they made six drug interdictions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

Combating the flow of illegal drugs to the United States, the Coast Guard is the lead federal agency for maritime drug interdiction. Recently, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell was recognized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C. for a successful interdiction off the coast of Guatemala in 2014.

From July to October 2014, the crew of Boutwell was deployed in the Eastern Pacific. After being notified of a potential target of interest by two Navy P-3C Maritime Patrol Aircraft crews, the Boutwell crew coordinated with an embarked Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, Joint Interagency Task Force South, Coast Guard District 11, Coast Guard Cutter Alert and international partners to develop a clear, synchronized plan to interdict two vessels on Sept. 11, 2014.

Taking command as the Officer in Tactical Control, the crew of Boutwell began operations between five surface assets, two aircraft and two shoreside command centers. After flawlessly executing the interdiction of “Go-Fast” vessels La Galosa and Yeny Arg, seven suspects were detained and 440 kilograms of cocaine were recovered.

The crew then developed and published a comprehensive guide summarizing strategic and tactical planning and execution of the counter-drug mission. The job aid provides case studies of Boutwell’s experiences, depicting tactical situations and the subsequent actions of the cutter. The distribution of the job aid to Coast Guard Pacific Area, the Office of Cutter Forces and the Prospective Command Afloat School ignited strategic operational and tactical discussions that continue to improve overall mission effectiveness throughout the service.

The Boutwell crew’s employment of these tactics resulted in six interdictions, five disruptions, and the seizure of over 5,000 pounds of cocaine valued at $75 million.

“The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell’s actions as highlighted within their award nomination, are exactly the type of activities and performance that articulate the effects of the supply reduction objectives within the National Interdiction Command and Control Plan,” said James C. Olson, U.S. Interdiction Coordinator.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, homeported in San Diego, stand for a photo with U.S. Interdiction Coordinator James C. Olson following an award ceremony at the White House Office National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2015. The crew of Boutwell was awarded for a seizure of cocaine during a deployment near Guatemala Sept. 11, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.
Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, homeported in San Diego, stand for a photo with U.S. Interdiction Coordinator James C. Olson following an award ceremony at the White House Office National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2015. The crew of Boutwell was awarded for a seizure of cocaine during a deployment near Guatemala Sept. 11, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.

Boutwell is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2016 after 50 years in service. The crew involved in this interdiction mission was proud to have been a part of its history and were honored to accept the award.

“It was great to be here in D.C. to honor the hard work of the crew of Boutwell, to get recognition like this is just awesome,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Ross, a machinery technician aboard Boutwell. “This doesn’t happen often and it’s just an honor. A great ending for Boutwell.”

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