A HITRON MH-65 Dolphin firing warning stitches across the bow of a go-fast. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: HITRON – 20 years of hitting new highs!

HITRON is a deploying helicopter squadron based in Jacksonville, Florida, specializing in Airborne Use of Force for counter-narcotic operations. HITRON is the nation’s first, and most successful airborne law enforcement unit trained and authorized to employ AUF. With their aeronautical skill, Airborne Use of Force tactics and professionalism, HITRON aircrews have exemplified the Coast Guard’s core values of “honor, respect and devotion to duty.”


Protecting America: Seizure of 16 tons of cocaine worth estimated $420 million

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.


Protecting America: Coast Guard counter-drug aircrews record 500th drug bust

The Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) marked its 500th drug interdiction when a deployed crew stopped a drug-laden go-fast vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, March 11, 2017.


Preparing for the mission

The Coast Guard’s ability to complete missions across the globe is contingent upon capable platforms and, most importantly, Coast Guard members with the proper skills, knowledge, and experience. Prior to deployments, Coast Guard cutters and aircraft crews hone their proficiency through rigorous training programs and practice. Providing the most realistic and high fidelity training environment to practice shipboard helicopter operations, Coast Guard Cutter Venturous led a Deck Qualification Landing (DLQ) exercise, also known as a DLQ Roundup, off the coast of Miami.


Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf’s crew was the 2016 recipient of the Coast Guard Foundation’s National Award for Heroism. From May 2015 to April 2016, the Bertholf crew, its Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron and Cryptological Group detachments completed two deployments to the Eastern Pacific totaling 213 days away from homeport. In all, the Bertholf crew detained 58 suspected narco-traffickers and prevented over 50,700 pounds of narcotics – with a street value of over $806 million – from reaching the United States. These efforts were responsible for over 10 percent of the Coast Guard’s total cocaine seizures in 2015.


In the zone: A crew’s determination ‘over the horizon’ Part 1

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.


In the Zone: 15 minutes to launch

In the Zone: 15 minutes to launch

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.


Service to shipmates

Service to shipmates

Coast Guard men and women have debated for centuries about what makes a successful voyage. While the debate continues, one aviator, Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Muro, holds the answer: build relationships, help out where needed and keep a positive outlook.


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.

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

“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.”


JIATF-South deployment

Coast Guard aircrews honored for excellence

Although the birth of naval aviation is traced back to 1911, it wasn’t until almost 30 years later that one of the Coast Guard’s most powerful assets, the helicopter, became part of naval flight. In the spring of 1943, then […]


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