JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrews based in Jacksonville detected two vessels carrying more than 2,923 pounds of cocaine operating in the Eastern Pacific Ocean this month.
AMO crews aboard a P-3 aircraft detected two suspicious go-fast style vessels engaging in transnational narcotics trafficking. The P-3 crew then handed off surveillance to a Miami-based DHC-8 crew who continued tracking the vessels.
The crews coordinated with Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATF South) who sent a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to intercept the vessels, resulting in the arrest of three suspects and the seizure of more than 2,900 pounds of cocaine.
“This latest seizure provides a glimpse of the vigilance our experienced aircrews exhibit when patrolling the open waters,” said Director of National Air Security Operations Center - Jacksonville Robert Blanchard. “Our crews remain committed to disrupting transnational criminal organizations’ attempts to smuggle illicit narcotics.”
AMO patrols 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 Orions have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with JIATF South. Operation Martillo, coordinated by JIATF 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 ships and aircraft support the efforts to interdict illicit trafficking near Central American waters.
In Fiscal Year 2016, AMO P-3 aircrews 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.
AMO 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, AMO 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.