MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Northland interdicted 3,532 pounds of cocaine from a 35-foot go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea March 3.
Northland crewmembers confiscated 54 bales of cocaine, worth a total wholesale value of $43,254,000.
While on patrol in the Caribbean Sea, Northland’s embarked helicopter crew from the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON), based in Jacksonville, Fla., spotted a go-fast vessel with four crewmembers aboard and bales on deck.
Northland crewmembers boarded the go-fast vessel, detained the four suspected smugglers, and seized the 54 bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine.
The interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.
“This successful seizure by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Northland is just the latest of several recent interdictions to occur under Operation Martillo,” said Capt. Brendan McPherson, 7th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement.
Also assisting in the interdiction was the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Key West, Fla.
“This case was truly a team effort involving the Northland crew, our embarked HITRON Aviation Detachment, and the Pea Island crew,” said Cmdr. Dale V. Shepardson, Northland’s commanding officer. “I am extremely proud of everyone who contributed to making this successful interdiction in the early hours of the morning, and in less than perfect weather conditions. More importantly, the crew feels proud that they took a large quantity of drugs off the streets, and that they successfully completed the mission we were sent out to do.”
The cutter Northland is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va. The ship was commissioned Dec. 17, 1984, and despite its 27 years of service in an aging fleet, its crew succesfully carries out the missions of law enforcement, search and rescue, and homeland security.