MIAMI- A Florida-based U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations P-3 Long Range Tracker (LRT) aircrew performing a tactical reposition flight into the Joint Interagency Task Force - South area of responsibility detected three go-fast type vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean south of Panama on April 20th. The AMO P-3 crew coordinated an interdiction effort with interagency partners operating in the region leading to the seizure of over 1470 pounds of cocaine and three arrests.
The AMO aircrew initially detected the vessels congregating in an area known to be a smuggling route for drug trafficking organizations. The location of the nearest interdiction assets was too far to permit the crew to remain overtop the targets until their arrival on scene, so the AMO P-3 aircrew covertly observed the vessels while task force partners approached.
Interagency partners subsequently intercepted the vessel, seized over 1470 pounds of cocaine and detained three individuals. The suspected drug traffickers dumped an estimated 1800 additional pounds of additional contraband into the ocean during the attempted escape.
"The AMO P-3 crew, working almost 20 continuous hours, demonstrates the immeasurable dedication to the mission," said NASOC-Jacksonville's Director of Air Operations Robert Blanchard. "It also highlights the effective teamwork between Air and Marine Operations and U.S. Coast Guard crews."
CBP Air and Marine Operations P-3s are an integral part of the successful counternarcotic missions operating in coordination with Joint Interagency Task Force South. The AMO P-3 aircrew supporting the operation is based at CBP Air and Marine Operation's National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville, Florida which recently completed its most successful counter narcotics operational year since its inception in 1999.
Operation Martillo, led by Joint Interagency Task Force South in support of U.S. Southern Command, is entering its fifth year of coordinating partner nation efforts to stop illicit trafficking routes in the coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Since its launch on Jan. 15, 2012, Martillo -- Spanish for "hammer" -- has supported the seizure of 693 metric tons of cocaine and $25 million in bulk cash, detained 1,863 suspects and 581 vessels and aircraft. 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.
Video: Air and Marine Operations P-3 Aircraft
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.