September 15, 2018 –
Approximately six tons of cocaine seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean were offloaded Monday in Port Everglades by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC-908).
The drugs, worth more than an estimated $170-million, represent drugs seized from six suspected smuggling vessels interdicted by crews from Tahoma and two other Coast Guard cutters between late July and August.
· Tahoma was responsible for three interdictions, seizing an estimated 3,962 kilograms.
· The Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) was responsible for two interdictions, seizing an estimated 1,855 kilograms.
· The Coast Guard Cutter Seneca (WMEC-906) was responsible for one interdiction, seizing an estimated 500 kilograms.
“The countless hours and long days spent by our crews to stop these illegal smuggling operations is the embodiment of devotion to duty,” said Cmdr. Michael Sarnowski, cutter Tahoma commanding officer. “It is critical that our Coast Guard crews and partner agencies work persistently in ensuring these illegal drugs are stopped from coming to the streets of the United States.”
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, 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. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in districts across the nation.
The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The cutter Tahoma is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Kittery, Maine. The cutter Seneca is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Boston. The cutter Tampa is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia.