US Coast Guard offloads millions in drugs seized in Caribbean SeaSunday, September 20, 2020
MIAMI, United States (CMC) — The United States Coast Guard says that crew members from its Cutter Harriet Lane have offloaded about 12,100 pounds of cocaine and about 5,759 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated US$216 million, seized in drug interdictions in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The US Coast Guard said the drugs, unloaded on Thursday at Port Everglades in Florida, were interdicted in 12 separate law enforcement cases by two coast guard vessels, three US Navy vessels, and two British Royal Navy vessels during a two-week period spanning August 27 – September 8.
The US Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane carried out three interdictions in the Eastern Pacific, seizing about 3,882 pounds of cocaine and about 2,527 pounds of marijuana.
The British naval vessel HMS Medway, with an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment, carried out two interdictions in the Caribbean Sea, seizing about 1,433 pounds of cocaine, the US Coast Guard said.
It said the British Naval vessel RFA Argus, with an embarked Coast Guard LEDET, carried out one interdiction in the Caribbean Sea, seizing about 789 pounds of cocaine.
The US Coast Guard also said that the USS Kidd (DDG-100), with an embarked Coast Guard LEDET, recovered about 145 pounds of cocaine while operating in the Caribbean Sea.
In addition, the US Coast Guard said the USS Zephyr (PC-8), with an embarked Coast Guard LEDET, recovered about 12 pounds of marijuana while operating in the Caribbean Sea.
“This large amount of drugs was seized in just a short, 13-day span [and] shows just how serious the issue is,” said Captain Dorothy Hernaez, commanding officer of the Cutter Harriet Lane.
“I am very proud of the efforts by not only the Harriet Lane crew but also all the other coast guard, navy and British Royal Navy assets involved in the interdictions,” she added. “These crews overcame significant challenges related to COVID-19 to remain both operational and effective, in order to keep these drugs off our streets.”
The US Coast Guard said its Western Hemisphere Strategy assigns three specific priorities of combating networks, securing borders and safeguarding commerce.
To achieve success in these priorities, the US Coast Guard said it “continuously strives for close coordination between partnering naval assets as well as its own.
“Effective communication, persistence and teamwork are among many characteristics that contribute to mission success,” it said. “The diversity of the assets that contributed to these interdictions demonstrates the effectiveness of the high level of cooperation between the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and British Royal Navy.”
The US Coast Guard said it “remains committed to the enhancement of counter-narcotic operations throughout the maritime domain, to diminish transnational threats and maximise our country's security.”
On April 1, the US Coast Guard said the Miami-based US Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere “to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of presidential national security Objectives.”
It said numerous US agencies from the departments of defense, justice and Homeland Security cooperated “in the effort to combat transnational organized crime”.
The US Coast Guard said the US Navy, US Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), US Drug Enforcement Administration, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, “play a role in counter-drug operations”.
“The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases —from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions for these 12 interdictions by attorney's offices from the District of Puerto Rico, the Middle District of Florida, and the Southern District of Florida,” the US Coast Guard said.
It said the law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California, and the law enforcement phase of operations in the Caribbean Sea is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard's 7th District, headquartered in Miami.
The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the US Coast Guard.