Thetis Seizes Nearly 7 Tons of Cocaine, Rescues Ocean Wildlife
KEY WEST, Fla. — The Coast Guard Cutter Thetis returned to homeport in Key West Dec. 17 following a 68-day Eastern Pacific counter drug patrol.
The Thetis crew worked alongside the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, an aviation detachment from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) and a Royal Canadian Navy maritime coastal defense vessel in support of Operation Martillo seizing 6,755 kilograms of cocaine and 14 pounds of marijuana during eight separate interdictions that resulted in the apprehension of 24 suspected smugglers.
While on patrol Nov. 19, the cutter launched its Over-the-Horizon small boat to investigate a debris field. The boat crew discovered a large sea turtle entangled in multiple bales of suspected contraband.
Coast Guard Ens. Mark Krebs, the pursuit mission commander, said that as his team arrived on scene with the jettison field, they immediately noticed the entangled sea turtle. They saw significant chaffing from the lines on his neck and flippers. They briefed the commanding officer and went to work, carefully cutting the lines wrapped around the sea turtle and then eventually freeing him.
The boat crew recovered over 75 feet of line to prevent further entanglement of sea life and returned to the law enforcement mission recovering more than 1,800 pounds of cocaine valued at over $53 million from international waters.
During this patrol, the combined efforts of the Thetis crew, Joint Interagency Task Force South, HITRON, Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team and other Coast Guard assets eliminated nearly seven tons of illicit narcotics with a street value more than $135 million that pose a threat to national security and regional stability.
Operation Martillo is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner-nation effort launched in January 2012 targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. To date, partner nation efforts have contributed to 57 percent of all disruptions to illicit trafficking and 60 percent of the metric tons captured as part of the Operation Martillo initiative.