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CBP Makes $37M Cocaine Bust in Caribbean Sea

Release Date: 
August 28, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine P-3 Orion Long Range Tracker aircraft performing a patrol of the Caribbean Sea aided in the recovery of approximately 3,317 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $37,625,000.

An OAM crew aboard a CBP P3 aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast style vessel about 135 miles East of Panama City, Panama. The P-3 aircrew vectored two U.S. Coast Guard cutters and two Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) aircraft to the smuggler's location.

Aircrew from the HITRON helicopter spotted suspected drug smugglers on the go-fast vessel dumping multiple bales overboard as part of efforts to evade capture. A Coast Guard Cutter arrived at the dumping area and recovered 2,259 pounds of cocaine.

The CBP crew continued to track the go-fast vessel and the Colombian Navy responded to intercept the vessel. Law enforcement detained four suspected drug smugglers and seized 1,049 pounds of cocaine.

“The ability to effectively work with our international partners enhances our ability to target those attempting to push drugs into our local communities,” said Director of National Air Security Operations Center – Jacksonville Doug Garner. “We’re able to detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.”

The P-3s' distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the U.S. land borders.

The partnerships bolstering counternarcotic capabilities are part of the Joint Interagency Task Force – South JIATF-S. JIATF-S is a national drug task force under U.S. Southern Command and facilitates U.S. and partner nation law enforcement interdiction efforts against illicit trafficking in support of national and regional security.

The Office of Air and Marine is the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization, and is a critical component of CBP’s layered enforcement strategy for border security. OAM is uniquely positioned to provide direct air and maritime support to multiple agencies and to ensure the success of border protection and law enforcement operations between ports of entry, within the maritime operating areas and within the nation’s interior.