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CBP Office of Air and Marine P-3 Leads to 570 Pounds of Cocaine

Release Date: 
August 26, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine agents and international partners intercepted a suspicious vessel loaded with 570 pounds of cocaine in international waters off the coast of Panama. The estimated street value of the drugs is more than $42 million.

A CBP OAM crew aboard a P-3 Orion fixed-wing aircraft detected a fast-moving panga-type vessel in open waters near Panama City on August 14. The
agents provided overhead surveillance as Panamanian law enforcement moved in to intercept the vessel. Authorities arrested three individuals and seized multiple bales of cocaine on the drug-trafficking vessel.

A suspicious vessel off the coast of Panama.

A suspicious vessel off the coast of Panama.

“Our experienced agents work with a vast network of law enforcement and military partners to prevent narcotics from reaching our borders through the source and transit zones of the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific,” said Director of National Air Security Operations Center - Jacksonville Robert Blanchard. “We’ll continue to empower our agents to aggressively pursue drug smugglers and enhance our interdiction capabilities through a networked approach to coordination with our interagency partners.”

The P-3 aircraft patrolling during the interdiction at sea is based at OAM's National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville, Florida. OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South). JIATF 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.

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. The P-3’s distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders of the United States. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area almost 14 times the size of the continental United States, P-3 aircrews detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.

In Fiscal Year 2014, CBP’s P-3s operating from Jacksonville, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas, 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.

CBP Office of Air and Marine is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people. OAM applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs unique skill sets to protect our Nation's borders and preserve America's security interests.  

B-Roll Footage: CBP OAM P-3 Aircraft

To find out more about CBP operations in Florida, visit @CBPFlorida on Twitter.                                            

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017