CBP P-3 Crews Disrupt Drug Smuggling Attempts Worth $74 Million
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine agents and interagency partners disrupted two separate drug smuggling attempts off the coast of Costa Rica resulting in the interdiction of more than $74 million in illegal drugs.
On Jan. 20, a Jacksonville-based OAM aircrew aboard a P-3 was on a patrol approximately 190 miles northwest of Isla de Coco when they detected a suspicious speedboat. U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard aircraft continued to maintain surveillance until a maritime asset could intercept the smugglers. Three suspects were taken into custody and authorities recovered more than 954 pounds of cocaine.
On Jan. 18, an OAM P-3 crew was on a counterdrug patrol when they detected a suspicious go-fast vessel around 90 nautical miles east of Costa Rica. While tracking the vessel, the OAM P-3 crew observed the smugglers throwing 35 bales of contraband into the water. Costa Rican law enforcement intercepted the vessel, recovered 1,313 pounds of marijuana, and detained five crew members onboard.
“Every day we’re committed to detecting, interdicting and preventing acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs and other contraband toward the United States,” said Director of National Air Security Operations Center – Jacksonville Doug Garner. “The strong relationships with our international partners continue to bring results.”
Under the international counter illicit trafficking initiative called Operation Martillo, U.S. military and law enforcement agencies and regional partner nations' military and law enforcement agencies patrol the air and sea environments in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific on a year-round basis.
Operation Martillo includes the participation of 15 nations that are working together to counter trans-national organized crime and illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by a joint agency task force headquartered in Key West, Florida.
CBP OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with Joint Interagency Task Force South. The P-3s patrol in a 42 million-square mile area known as the Source and Transit Zone, 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 out of 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.
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.