Coast Guard Cutter Tampa Returns Home After Inderdicting $240 million in Drugs

March 25 2019 – Coast Guard Cutter Tampa returned to Portsmouth Monday following a successful 85-day counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

During their patrol off the coasts of Central and South America, Tampa’s crew successfully interdicted approximately 18,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of $240 million.

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, detection and monitoring of suspects’ vessels is a joint effort by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen.

Coast Guard Cutters Tampa, Dependable and Venturous worked with multiple interagency partners during the patrol and were able to prevent a combined total of nearly $380 million in cocaine from reaching the U.S.

The 18,000 pounds of cocaine seized by Tampa increases the ship’s total to nearly 17 tons of cocaine seized and 17 drug trafficking vessels stopped over the past two years. In addition, Tampa also conducted a combined boarding with the Ecuadorian Coast Guard.

“Everyone aboard Tampa worked extremely hard throughout the patrol to ensure our success for every case that crossed our bow,” said Petty Officer First Class Justin Mulkey, a maritime enforcement specialist aboard the cutter. “It’s truly amazing to see firsthand all of that diligence come together in preventing such a significant amount of cocaine from hitting our streets, as well as apprehending multiple smugglers in the hopes of breaking down the drug trafficking organizations.

“Each member aboard takes pride in the work they do to complete this mission, and fully understands that such mission success is paramount to preventing harm from coming to our country.”

The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard’s 11th District headquartered in Alameda, California.

Tampa’s crewmembers also shared a personal nautical milestone as they crossed the equator during the patrol and earned the distinguished title of Shellback.

Commissioned in 1983, the Tampa is a multi-mission 270-foot cutter homeported in Portsmouth. The cutter is responsible for a variety of Coast Guard missions; including search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, maritime defense, and protection of the marine environment.