JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrews based in Jacksonville detected multiple vessels in international waters off the coast of Central America over the past week resulting in the interdiction of more than 5,820 pounds of cocaine. The estimated wholesale value is approximately $75 million.
CBP Air and Marine Operations crews aboard CBP P-3 aircraft used sophisticated air surveillance equipment to detect suspicious go-fast style vessels during three separate incidents in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and worked with interagency and international partners to intercept the vessels and suspected drug smugglers.
National Air Security Operations Center – Jacksonville recently completed its most successful counter narcotics operational year since its inception in 1999. In Fiscal Year 2016 alone, CBP’s P-3s operating from Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, directly contributed to 145 drug seizure or disruption incidents in the transit zone, resulting in the interdiction of 34,108 pounds of marijuana and 193,197 pounds of cocaine.
"Catching smugglers in the Central American littorals is a coordinated effort aimed at disrupting illicit trafficking routes and directly targeting the flow of cocaine and other drugs,” said Director of National Air Security Operations Center - Jacksonville Robert Blanchard. “CBP’s Air and Marine Operations aircrews are dedicated to preserving and strengthening U.S. security interests.”
CBP's Air and Marine Operations assets patrol a 42 million-square mile area of the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit towards U.S. shores. National Air Security Operations (NASO) P-3 Orion’s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with Joint Interagency Task Force – South. Operation Martillo, led by Joint Interagency Task Force South in support of U.S. Southern Command, is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S., partner nation and allied forces' ships and aircraft support the efforts to shift maritime illicit trafficking away from the Central American littorals while maximizing interdiction efforts.
CBP's Air and Marine Operations is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. With approximately 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 conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation's interior.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.