Third time’s a charm: 7 tons of cocaine seized

Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District, congratulates the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Cypress during the contraband offload. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse.

Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District, congratulates the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Cypress during the contraband offload. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse.

While some claim 13 is an unlucky number, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk would disagree. In just 13 days Mohawk interdicted two drug subs, keeping seven tons of cocaine, $180 million wholesale, off the streets of our nation.

Mohawk, a medium-endurance cutter, interdicted the self-propelled semi-submersible vessel while on a routine counternarcotics patrol in the Western Caribbean Sea. Used regularly to transport illegal narcotics in the Eastern Pacific, this is only the third Coast Guard interdiction of an SPSS in the Caribbean.

A sunken self-propelled semi-submersible vessel lay on the floor of the Western Caribbean Sea Oct. 19, 2011. Photo courtesy of the FBI Laboratory's Technical Dive Team.

A sunken self-propelled semi-submersible vessel lay on the floor of the Western Caribbean Sea Oct. 19, 2011. Photo courtesy of the FBI Laboratory’s Technical Dive Team.

The chase commenced when the crew of a maritime patrol aircraft spotted a suspicious vessel and notified Mohawk’s crew of the location.

“We were about 150 miles away so we were in one of those instances where we really needed to come up to full speed and close that gap so we could interdict this vessel,” said Cmdr. Mark Fedor, Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk’s commanding officer.

With Mohawk steaming forward, their helicopter and boatcrew launched. Joined by the maritime patrol aircraft, the assets moved in and successfully interdicted the drug sub.

“This is the second self-propelled semi-submersibles case for this crew and I am extremely proud we were able to stop millions of dollars of cocaine from reaching the streets of America,” said Fedor. “They are a significant threat to our nation and throughout Central and South America because they can smuggle massive amounts of narcotics as well as other illicit goods or people and we will continue to be out here and stand a vigilant watch.”

With the crew detained, the self-propelled semi-submersible sank along with the contraband, an act that is common as drug traffickers design their vessels to be difficult to spot and rapidly sink when they detect law enforcement.

A member of the FBI Laboratory's Technical Dive Team located at Quantico, Va., recovers bales of cocaine from a sunken self-propelled semi-submersible vessel in the Western Caribbean Sea. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A member of the FBI Laboratory’s Technical Dive Team located at Quantico, Va., recovers bales of cocaine from a sunken self-propelled semi-submersible vessel in the Western Caribbean Sea. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Because of the shallow depth at which the sub sank, Coast Guard Cutter Cypress, a 225-foot buoy tender, initiated a search with the FBI Laboratory’s Technical Dive Team. Together the crew and dive team conducted multiple search patterns and located the sub.

“The interdiction of a third SPSS in the Caribbean brings to a close an extremely successful fiscal year for the Coast Guard here in Southeast U.S. and Caribbean,” said Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District. “Working with our interagency and international partners, we detained 98 smugglers and prevented 60,064 pounds of cocaine and 4,412 pounds of marijuana with a combined street value of $727 million from reaching our streets.”

“Although we have been finding highly creative and innovative ways to make our counter drug mission successful, we continued to be challenged by the maintenance requirements and limited capabilities of our aging fleet of larger ships,” added Baumgartner. “One of the greatest limitations to our success is the availability of large cutters to patrol the transit zones, and new cutters, designed to patrol far offshore in District Seven, will ensure we continue to detect threats at greater distances from U.S. shores and meet the demands of our robust counter-drug mission.”

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  • Darren I. Bullock

    Great job Guardians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Aloha,

    MECS Bullock

  • Ana Paulina

    Yes, nice job on the FRINGE BENEFITS, no wonder 3/4 of the population are whacked out on drugs.

  • Chuck

    GOOD JOB GUYS!!!! Keep up the great work! That other “1/4″ of the population is proud of you. Your continued sacrifice of time in which you spend away from your spouses, children, family, and friends is graciously appreciated by the citizens of this great Nation. BZ, and have a safe trip home. God, Country, and Fast Boats.

    -Chuck

  • Dena

    Great Job…keeping those drugs off the streets. As a mom of a Coastie Thank you for all that you do..

  • Will

    ME1 and rest of the crew, great job, great patrol, those are awsome numbers for one patrol. You definately set the bar for upcoming patrols. BZ

    MEC Will
    MSST NY

  • John

    Ana Paulina, please explain/expound on your comment:

    Ana Paulina says:
    October 31, 2011 at 11:19 pm
    Yes, nice job on the FRINGE BENEFITS, no wonder 3/4 of the population are whacked out on drugs.