WASHINGTON, D.C.—A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) P-3, operating out of National Air Security Operations Center-Jacksonville (NASOC-JAX), detected two go-fast vessels carrying more than 4,840 pounds of cocaine with a combined value of more than $362 million.
On April 20, a P-3 operating in the Western Caribbean spotted two go-fast vessels 120 miles off the coast of Panama. The two 40-foot twin-engine vessels were spotted speeding north and appeared to be loaded with numerous packages when the Florida-based CBP P-3 began tracking them.
Local law enforcement assets were vectored in to pursue the two vessels, who attempted to evade authorities. One vessel abandoned the contraband before arriving on shore, while the second go-fast was seized nearby. The U.S. Navy frigate USS ELROD (FFG 55) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team recovered 89 bales of cocaine.
This seizure is in addition to the $2.8 billion detected by the CBP P-3s operating out of Jacksonville, Fla. and Corpus Christi, Texas since October 2011.
During fiscal year 2011, the CBP P-3 fleet continued its anti-smuggling success by seizing or disrupting more than 148,000 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $11.1 billion, totaling 20.6 pounds seized for every flight hour, valued at $1.5 million for every hour flown.
CBP OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATFS). The P-3s patrol in a six million square mile area of the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit towards U.S. shores. The P-3s' distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders of the U.S. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the continental U.S., the P-3s detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.