Suspicions were raised when a fisherman in a panga in the Eastern Pacific Ocean approached Coast Guard Cutter Sherman. After having interdicted several illicit drug runners during the patrol, the mission altered when it was a revealed a fisherman was in need of medical services.
Tag: in the zone
On a patrol that took the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Sherman away from their families during the holiday season, the mission has never been so critical. Lives hang in the balance as they work to keep drugs from reaching the U.S. streets and ravaging Central America. In one day, the crew interdicted three drug runs seizing more than 6,613 pounds of cocaine with a wholesale price of $99 million.
The Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy makes it clear that combating transnational organized criminal networks is a top priority, and that the service will continually seek new methods and assets for doing so. One new method that has proven highly successful in recent years has been the deployment of the Coast Guard’s maritime safety and security teams to assist with the disruption of these networks throughout their known operating routes in the Caribbean.
The smell of coffee, sweat and hydraulic fluid permeates the air. Music echoes in the background: the beat gaining momentum as the night drags on. Workers in oil-stained coveralls and latex gloves swarm the hangar wielding tools befitting a surgeon’s operating table. The hours grow long and the coffee brews stronger. The prickling sense of urgency lingers as grease-covered hands dissect the beast’s anatomy: every turn of the wrench is precise, calculated. Each stitch buys one more flight, one more mission and one more safe return.
Of known drug shipments, it’s believed that 97 percent are transported via maritime means. Through the Coast Guard’s role as America’s premier maritime security force, servicemembers seek to better understand, identify, aggressively pursue and prosecute transnational organized crime networks in the Western Hemisphere.
Coast Guard Cutter Stratton has just wrapped up a three-month deployment to Central America where their main focus was drug interdiction and international maritime law enforcement. On international patrols, Coast Guard ships often bring temporary support personnel that are pertinent to the mission. Joining them for the entire deployment was Mr. Emerson Garcia, an officer from Fuerza Especial Naval (FEN), or Guatemalan Navy Special Forces.
Transferring to a new unit is stressful. Transferring to a unit currently underway on an international counter narcotics patrol is even more so. Petty Officer 3rd Class Lawrence Flennoy, a machinery technician, recently flew to Mexico and reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Active during the cutter’s Joint Interagency Task Force South patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The Coast Guard’s leadership role in Western Hemisphere security and prosperity is critical in the fight against transnational organized crime networks active in the Western Hemisphere as continually strained national security resources are stretched across the globe.
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton interdicts 8.4 tons of uncut cocaine after hunting a drug smuggling semi-submersible in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, July 18, 2015. Waiting. Watching. Always Ready.
Cocaine seizures prevent drugs from reaching America’s streets, but they also deliver a blow to the wallet and influence of transnational organized crime groups. Without the Coast Guard and its partners, hundreds of millions of dollars would flow past U.S. borders and fuel these crime-terror-insurgency organizations.