Alert Seizes $188 Million in Cocaine During Eastern Pacific Patrol
ASTORIA, Ore. – The crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Alert returned July 18 to their homeport following a 56-day counterdrug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard Pacific Area said in a release.
Alert crew members and a tactical law enforcement detachment team conducted multiple interdictions while patrolling international waters off the coast of Central America in support of the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South). The interdictions resulted in more than 12,000 pounds of suspected cocaine seized with an estimated value of $188.7 million wholesale, setting a record for the cutter as the most cocaine seized during a single patrol.
In early July, the Alert received maritime patrol aircraft support from multiple agencies vectoring Alert’s interceptor boat toward a low-profile go-fast vessel. Alert’s boarding team interdicted the vessel and apprehended three suspected smugglers. The boarding team seized approximately 4,978 pounds of suspected cocaine from the vessel.
An Alert boarding team simultaneously intercepted two go-fast vessels within close proximity to each other in mid-July. The boarding team apprehended eight suspected smugglers and seized a combined total of approximately 5,284 pounds of suspected cocaine during the pair of interdictions.
Alert boarding teams recovered an additional 2,158 pounds of suspected cocaine jettisoned by suspected smugglers as the suspects fled from Alert pursuit teams attempting to interdict the suspicious vessels during two separate cases in June.
The efforts by the crew during the counterdrug patrol will aid federal investigators in the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security as they continue their work dismantling the transnational organized crime networks who are pervasive in Central America, Mexico and South America.
Alert’s engineering department kept the ship and interceptor boat operating and mission capable during the patrol overcoming 20 significant equipment casualties including two that were temporarily disabling.
“The crew worked incredibly hard during this patrol, overcoming many challenges,” said Cmdr. Tobias Reid, Alert’s commanding officer. “They pulled through the casualties and achieved incredible results, a true testament to their professionalism and tenacity. I am very proud and humbled to be their leader.”
This patrol was also highlighted by engagement with the local communities during various port calls. Alert refurbished a library in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, during a community relations project. The library provides educational opportunities and a meeting place for the local residents.
The suspected cocaine seized by Alert crew members during the patrol was part of the 8.5 tons of contraband offloaded July 16 in San Diego from the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast.