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CBP P-3 Crew Disrupts Smuggling Attempt; Cocaine run valued at $64.9 M stopped at sea

Release Date: 
August 14, 2015

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine agents detected a cocaine run resulting in the arrest of three individuals and the interdiction of more than 868 pounds of cocaine worth more than $64.9 million.

The crew was aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning aircraft and operating as part of Operation Martillo when they spotted a go-fast moving in open waters south of Panama, Aug. 6.

Upon detecting the fast-moving vessel, the CBP crew immediately coordinated with Joint Interagency Task Force South. Panama deployed two boats to intercept the go-fast; Panamanian authorities apprehended three individuals and seized the vessel and its cargo – 868 pounds of cocaine.

“Our work with JIATF South and partner nations continue to pay off,” said John Wassong, director of National Air Security Operations Center – Corpus Christi.  “This case is yet another good example of the importance of the P-3 program. The unique detection capabilities of our aircraft are essential to combatting criminal organizations. ”

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. 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.

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 more than 5,900 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 126,489 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $9.47 billion.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017