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CBP P-3 Crew Affects $65M Cocaine Disruption

Release Date: 
May 1, 2015

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine agents working as part of Operation Martillo detected a panga-type vessel carrying nearly 882 pounds of cocaine worth more than $65 million.

A CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker flying in the air

A CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker detected a fast-moving boat in open waters and crew watched as the boat's crew ditched bales of cocaine overboard.

The OAM crew aboard a CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker was operating in the open waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, April 26, when they detected a twin-engine boat moving just off the Panamanian and Colombian border. 

After obtaining visual confirmation of the vessel, the P-3 crew notified Joint Interagency Task Force-South officials who began to coordinate with Panamanian and Colombian law enforcement officials to intercept the vessel.

The OAM crew maintained surveillance and observed the boat’s crew dump its cargo overboard.  A Colombian Navy vessel intercepted the panga.  Using video and still imagery, analysts were able to determine that nearly 882 pounds was jettisoned before Colombian officials boarded the boat. 

“As part of Operation Martillo, CBP P-3 crews are actively patrolling the open waters of well-known source and transit zone areas with the goal of disrupting narcotics smuggling before it reaches U.S. borders and shores,” said NASOC-CC Director John Wassong. “This disruption illustrates our commitment to employ long-range maritime patrols in support of CBP’s extended border concept and to take every opportunity to interrupt transnational criminal activity.”

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.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017