Coast Guard, Western Hemisphere partners seize $423M in cocaine during multiple drug busts

Written by Lt. Donnie Brzuska.

During an October 6, 2014, homecoming, Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell offloaded 28,000 pounds of cocaine seized by joint and combined forces during 16 different interdictions as part of Operation Martillo. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.

During an October 6, 2014, homecoming, Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell offloaded 28,000 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated wholesale value of more than $423 million, seized by joint and combined forces during 16 different interdictions as part of Operation Martillo. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.

Yesterday, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell returned home and offloaded more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine seized during counter drug missions on a 90-day deployment.

The crew turned the cocaine, worth more than $423 million wholesale, over to agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency. The drugs were seized and 55 suspects were apprehended during 18 separate interdictions by U.S. Coast Guard and Navy forces off the coast of Central and South America as part of Operation Martillo. Six of the interdictions were made by the crew of Boutwell.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, congratulates crewmembers aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell for earning the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, Oct. 6, 2014. The Boutwell's crew completed six cocaine interdictions during a 90-day patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, congratulates crewmembers aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell for earning the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

“The success of the crew of [Coast Guard] Cutter Boutwell, and of all our U.S. forces deployed throughout the Eastern Pacific Ocean, showcase the resolve of the Coast Guard, our interagency partners, and the international community to combat transnational organized crime networks operating in the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, who welcomed the crew home and presented them with the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for their role in the operation. “These Coast Guard men and women successfully confronted the risks brought on by the rising threat of transnational organized crime networks, which must be confronted to ensure maritime safety, efficiency, and security in the Western Hemisphere.”

Boutwell’s crew coordinated with U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and partner-nation assets to execute 15 go-fast pursuits resulting in the interdiction of six drug laden vessels and disruption of nine additional cases. The crew of Boutwell alone seized more than 5,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $75 million and detained 19 suspected smugglers.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell returns to homeport in San Diego after a 90-day counter drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Oct. 6, 2014. During the patrol, the Boutwell participated in six separate cocaine interdictions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

“Our crew used their unique capabilities and authorities as a military service, law enforcement agency, and member of the U.S. intelligence community to disrupt transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and keep drugs from making it to the U.S.,” said Capt. Edward A. Westfall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. “These illegal drug networks are dangerous breeding grounds for all types of trafficking and their immense profits fuel violence and instability.”

Operation Martillo, or Hammer, is one component in the U.S. Government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the spread of transnational organized crime in Central America and the use of Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, cash, and human trafficking.

The Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell is a 378-foot high endurance cutter with a crew of approximately 160 people. The more than 45-year-old Boutwell and the other Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by the Legend-class national security cutters. National security cutters are better equipped, more durable, safer, and more efficient than their predecessor, and will continue to allow the Coast Guard to deliver its unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority, and lifesaving expertise.

The narcotics aboard Boutwell were intercepted by a variety U.S. forces operating in the Eastern Pacific including Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, USS McClusky, USS Vandegrift, USS Ingraham, Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South and Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron.

Boutwell’s offload comes less than two weeks after Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft signed the U.S. Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy, which addresses transnational threats and maritime challenges that threaten the security of the Nation, markets and oceans. Increased threats in the Western Hemisphere led to the new Western Hemisphere Strategy with the following priorities: combating networks, securing borders, and safeguarding commerce.

The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell stands at attention among pallets of seized cocaine during an award ceremony aboard the Boutwell at Naval Base San Diego, Oct. 6, 2014. The Boutwell returned from a 90-day counter drug patrol in which they made six drug interdictions. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell stands at attention among pallets of seized cocaine during an award ceremony at Naval Base San Diego. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell.

Comments

comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,