CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine (OAM) aircrew thwarted an attempt to smuggle 1,200 pounds of cocaine after detecting a loaded panga-type vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean on 2 May.
OAM agents aboard a CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker maintained covert surveillance on a vessel in open waters approximately 575 miles southwest of the Mexican-Guatemalan border while coordinating with interagency partners to intercept.
U.S. Navy assets intercepted the panga along with an additional vessel in the vicinity. Using video and still imagery, analysts determined that more than $90 million worth of cocaine was dumped overboard as part of efforts to evade capture.
The P-3 aircraft patrolling during the operation is based at OAM's National Air Security Operations Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“With our integrated partnerships we’re able to anticipate, detect and disrupt potential threats including illicit activity on the high seas,” said Director of National Air Security Operations Center – Corpus Christi John Wassong. “Our agents work tirelessly during long-range maritime patrols to expose transnational criminal activity before it reaches our shores.”
Operation Martillo includes the participation of 15 nations that work together to counter transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Joint Interagency Task Force South, a National Task Force, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists U.S. and multinational law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of these illicit traffickers.
OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the JIATF South. The P-3s patrol in a 42 million-square mile area which includes more than 41 nations, the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and seaboard approaches to the United States.
In Fiscal Year 2014, CBP’s P-3s operating from Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, flew nearly 6,000 hours in support of counternarcotic missions resulting in 135 interdiction events of suspected smuggling vessels and aircraft. These events led to the total seizure or disruption of more than 126,000 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $9.47 billion.
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.