US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Archived Content

In an effort to keep current, the archive contains content from a previous administration or is otherwise outdated.

CBP P-3 Detects Semisubmersible

Release Date: 
March 24, 2016

Vessel, 5.5 tons of cocaine sink to bottom of ocean

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents efforts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean lead to the arrest of four people and the disruption of more than 12,800 pounds of cocaine.

The cocaine had an estimated value of more than $193,939,000.  

The crew aboard a P-3 Long Range Tracker detected a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel Mar. 2, while conducting counter-narcotics operations with Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South

A crew aboard a CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker detected a semisubmersible carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine

A crew aboard a CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker detected a semisubmersible carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine

The task force coordinated an interdiction of the semi-submersible with a U.S. Coast Guard vessel in the area while the AMO crew maintained constant visual surveillance. Upon interdiction, the U.S. Coast Guard arrested four individuals operating the vessel.  The semi-submersible became unstable and sank.

“This type of cooperation and teamwork produces these kinds of results where suspects are arrested and narcotics prevented from reaching U.S. shores,” said Director John Wassong at the National Air Security Operations Center - Corpus Christi. “Our crews will continue to take every opportunity to disrupt this type of transnational criminal activity.”

CBP Air and Marine Operations P-3s are an integral part of the successful counternarcotic missions operating in coordination with JIATF South. AMO crews patrol within a 42-million-square-mile area which includes more than 41 nations and the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and seaboard approaches to the United States.

In Fiscal Year 2015, AMO’s aircrews contributed to 198 seizure, disruption, or interdiction events in the transit zone, resulting in the interdiction of 213,000 pounds of cocaine.

Operation Martillo (Hammer) is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.  U.S. military participation is led by Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of U.S. Southern Command. 

The U.S. contribution to the multinational detection, monitoring and interdiction operation includes U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, aircraft from U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, and military and law enforcement units from various nations working together to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to exploit these transshipment routes for the movement of narcotics, precursor chemicals, bulk cash, and weapons along Central American shipping routes.

Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by a joint interagency task force headquartered in Key West, Fla. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occur under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.

Last modified: 
March 4, 2019