CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On their latest trip to South America, a CBP Air and Marine Operations aircrew spoiled cocaine smugglers’ best efforts when they contributed to the arrest of 11 smugglers and the seizure of almost $300 million worth of narcotics between June 17-21.
“No one can hide from us on our watch,” said Director of Air and Marine Operations Bob “Thor” Blanchard. If smugglers are trying to bring drugs into the U.S., our dedicated and experienced crews will find them and they’ll go to jail.”
The crew of an AMO Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft began its work by detecting a small fishing vessel or “panga” loaded with 1,656 pounds of cocaine. The next day, the crew was on patrol using its sophisticated radar system detected a purpose-built smuggling vessel. The “Low Profile Vessel” or, LPV, was loaded with 4,134 pounds of cocaine. On the last day of its trip and while heading back to the United States, the crew detected a hard to find semi-submersible vessel. That load was one of the Corpus Christi office’s largest ever seizures. The 16,938-pound load on this vessel brought their weekly total to 22,728 pounds, or roughly the weight of three heavy-duty pickup trucks.
The National Air Security Operations Center—Corpus Christi is a division of Air and Marine Operations and operates the Lockheed P-3 Orion conducting counterdrug patrol missions over the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Together with the National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville, Florida, Customs and Border Protection P-3 crews seized or disrupted 261,939 pounds of cocaine in 2018.
The mission of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations is to serve and protect the American people. It applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs its unique skill sets to preserve America’s security interests. With 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, Air and Marine Operations uses its sophisticated fleets to detect, sort, intercept, track and apprehend criminals in diverse environments at and beyond U.S. borders.