US Coast Guard cutter seizes drugs, nabs smugglers in Caribbean Sea

US Coast Guard cutter seizes drugs, nabs smugglers in Caribbean Sea

Friday, February 19, 2021

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UNITED STATES (CMC) – The United States Coast Guard said on Thursday that its Cutter Harriet Lane has returned to its homeport here after a 71-day counter-drug patrol in the Caribbean Sea in which crew members seized a significant amount of drugs and apprehended several drug smugglers.

In support of the US Coast Guard's 11th District and Joint Interagency Task Force South, the US Coast Guard said the Harriet Lane crew worked throughout the duration of the patrol in conjunction with a deployed aviation detachment from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) based in Jacksonville, Florida.

HITRON specializes in the execution of airborne use of force for the purpose of disabling non-compliant vessels suspected of illicit drug smuggling.

“Harriet Lane joined forces with the Colombian Navy to conduct joint maritime operations in the Caribbean, focusing on interoperability, communications, and counter-narcotics efforts,” the US Coast Guard said.

On crossing into the Pacific, via the Panama Canal, it said the Harriet Lane crew and her embarked aviation detachment interdicted two non-compliant vessels suspected of illicit drug smuggling.

The US Coast Guard said these interdictions included the seizure of 980 kilograms of cocaine and 1,600 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of US$40 million.

The Harriet Lane also detained seven suspected drug smugglers associated with the interdictions, the US Coast Guard said.

Between operational tasking, it said the cutter crew completed aviation, damage control, seamanship and navigation training to maintain operational readiness and prepare for future multi-mission deployments.

“I could not be more proud of the crew of Harriet Lane for their perseverance and operational success amid the continued pandemic,” said Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez, commanding officer of the Harriet Lane. “The crew flawlessly executed COVID-19 mitigation protocols leading up to and during the deployment to remain healthy and operationally ready throughout.

“The success we had during this deployment would not have been possible without the continued support of our families and friends, who we are looking forward to seeing again upon our return to port,” she added.

Prior to returning home, the US Coast Guard said the Harriet Lane stopped in Port Everglades, Florida to transfer 17 suspected drug smugglers and US$206 million of illicit drugs to partner agencies for prosecution.

In addition to the interdictions by Harriet Lane, the US Coast Guard said persons and drug evidence transferred in “this evolution” came from interdictions in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean by Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf, Munro and Mohawk, as well as the USS William P. Lawrence with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team 101 and USS Comstock with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team 403.

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