Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Johnson
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Legare made their first U.S. port stop since February in Port Everglades, Florida, this week, but their work was far from done. The crew offloaded approximately 12 tons of cocaine and one ton of marijuana worth an estimated $390 million total wholesale.
The drugs were interdicted off the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America by multiple U.S. Coast Guard cutters and Canadian Naval vessels.
The offload was a result of 17 separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions by crews aboard Coast Guard Cutters Lagare, Reliance, Harriet Lane, Decisive, Steadfast and Dependable, and Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Whitehorse and Edmonton.
In one interdiction, the crew of the Harriet Lane seized an estimated 907 kilograms of cocaine; the largest interdiction of cocaine by a cutter crew on a single deployment since October.
The Legare crew was responsible for five drug smuggling vessel interdictions, seizing an estimated 2,051 kilograms of cocaine and 8 kilograms of marijuana.
“What these numbers represent is an increased commitment by U.S. and international partners to combat transnational criminal networks and promote stability in the Central American region, along the U.S. southern border, and in the southern maritime approaches to the U.S.,” said Cmdr. Jonathan Carter, commanding officer of Legare. “[This] offload sends them a message that our network of partners and allies remains resolute in our commitment to stem the flow of illicit trafficking that breeds instability.”
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions to prosecutions by several U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the nation and authorities in partner nations.
The Coast Guard increased the U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guard men and women. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District headquartered in Alameda, California.