Coast Guard Offloads 27,000 Pounds of Cocaine at Base Miami Beach
MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) offloaded on March 22 at Base Miami Beach about 27,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $360 million wholesale seized in international waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard 7th District said in a release.
The drugs were interdicted off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America and represent 12 interdictions of suspected drug-smuggling vessels by the Coast Guard:
• The Cutter Dependable (WMEC-626) was responsible for two cases, seizing about 2,926 pounds of cocaine.
• The Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) was responsible for six cases, seizing an estimated 18,239 pounds of the illicit drug.
• The Cutter Venturous (WMEC-625) was responsible for four cases, seizing about 7,218 pounds.
"Tampa's crew is extremely proud of the work they accomplished over the past three months,” said Cmdr. Nicholas Simmons, commanding officer of Tampa. “There are few things more frustrating to our Sailors than idle deployments, and none more gratifying than accomplishing a very important mission with impacts that resound across our nation. For many of the crew, this will be their last deployment on Tampa, and it's one they will always remember.”
The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy.
During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied, military or law-enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. The law-enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, which is headquartered in Alameda, California.
Tampa is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. Venturous is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Dependable is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Virginia Beach, Virginia. LEDET (Law-Enforcement Detachment) 107 is permanently assigned to the Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team in San Diego.
Numerous U.S. agencies from the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations.
Tampa even participated in the first joint boarding in recent memory between the United States and Ecuador. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Basin requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.