Each and every day, the Coast Guard combats the illicit drug trade in a six-million square mile area, including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific. Cocaine seizures prevent drugs from reaching America’s streets, while delivering a blow to the wallet and influence of transnational organized crime groups. Without the Coast Guard and its partners, hundreds of millions of dollars would flow past U.S. borders and fuel these crime-terror-insurgency organizations.
It would seem like once a Coast Guard crew interdicts illegal narcotics, the case is over, but that’s far from the truth. After the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton took positive control of a semi-submersible, July 6, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida and Operation Panama Express South investigated and prosecuted the drug traffickers. This Distinguished Public Service Award honors some of the highest levels of interagency coordination and cooperation we’ve seen across myriad U.S. and international entities in our nation’s whole-of-government effort to eradicate transnational organized crime networks.
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton interdicts 8.4 tons of uncut cocaine after hunting a drug smuggling semi-submersible in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, July 18, 2015. Waiting. Watching. Always Ready.
Cocaine seizures prevent drugs from reaching America’s streets, but they also deliver a blow to the wallet and influence of transnational organized crime groups. Without the Coast Guard and its partners, hundreds of millions of dollars would flow past U.S. borders and fuel these crime-terror-insurgency organizations.
Each and every day, the Coast Guard combats the illicit drug trade in a six-million square mile area, including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific. In addition to deterrence, Coast Guard drug interdiction accounts for nearly 52% of all U.S. government seizures of cocaine each year.
The Coast Guard maintains a constant presence in the Pacific and Caribbean– two key transit areas with known drug trafficking routes. Since the early 1970s, 378-foot cutters like the Mellon have been instrumental in the detection and interdiction of smugglers and narcotics on the high seas.
With eight of the top 10 most violent nations residing in the Western Hemisphere and transnational organized crime networks acting as non-state actors, relationships between America’s military services and law enforcement agencies with their counterparts throughout the region are more important than ever. And, every Coast Guard port call is an opportunity to build and nurture those critical partnerships.
Sometimes a person gets a weird feeling in the pit of their stomach because there is more to a situation than meets the eye. This feeling is commonly referred to as a person’s “sixth sense.” Coast Guard boarding officers are trained to follow that “sixth sense” while they’re conducting counter narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin. That’s exactly what happened to Petty Officer Matthew Baasch and a boarding team from the Cutter Bertholf when they climbed aboard the fishing vessel Goliat I off the coast of Colombia on June 28.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp testified before a joint U.S. House of Representatives hearing yesterday with the Committee on House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Marine Transportation and the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere.
Today, in the South Atlantic, maintaining international law is a collaborative effort involving a maritime presence from 15 countries. These 15 countries contribute to the multinational detection, monitoring and interdiction operation working together to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to exploit transshipment routes for the movement of narcotics, precursor chemicals, bulk cash and weapons along Central American shipping routes.