Waesche Completes Eastern Pacific Deployment
ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of the Coast Guard National Security Cutter Waesche returned home June 19 following a 58-day, 12,000-nautical mile counterdrug deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard said in a release.
Since Waesche’s departure from Alameda on April 22, the cutter patrolled international waters off the coast of Central America, disrupting Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) networks through joint interagency counterdrug operations.
While deployed, Waesche’s crew conducted eight interdictions and seized more than 17,000 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of more than $266 million and apprehended 20 suspected narcotics traffickers. Waesche’s crew offloaded the contraband in San Diego on June 15, along with another $288 million in cocaine seized by other Coast Guard cutters.
“The men and women of Waesche’s crew performed flawlessly during this deployment, preventing millions in illicit narcotics from reaching U.S. shores,” said Capt. James Passarelli, the cutter’s commanding officer. “Their efforts under challenging and dangerous conditions speak volumes to their collective sense of dedication and sacrifice in keeping America safe. I am incredibly proud of them all.”
The most recent seizure by Waesche’s crew was on June 8. The crew members intercepted a 55-foot Low-Profile Vessel (LPV) with approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine onboard. LPVs are designed to be low profile and colored to blend in with the ocean, making them difficult for law enforcement to detect.
Combating TOC networks, from which the illegal drug trade stems, is of paramount importance to the national security of the U.S., and is a mission in which the Coast Guard and partner agencies are heavily engaged. During fiscal 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard seized more than 443,000 pounds of cocaine and took 585 suspected smugglers into custody from the Eastern Pacific.