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CBP P-3 Disrupts Attempt to Smuggle $82 Million in Cocaine

Release Date: 
November 21, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine P-3 aircrew operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Jacksonville, Florida, detected a suspicious vessel carrying more than 1,100 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $82.3 million.

A high speed vessel attempts to evade detection.

A high speed vessel attempts to evade detection.

While patrolling the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 9 during a counter-drug mission, an aircrew aboard a P-3 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft spotted a high speed vessel moving through an area routinely used by drug smugglers. With the assistance of an additional CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker (LRT), OAM agents coordinated with the U.S. Navy to intercept the vessel.

A U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team (LEDET) discovered cocaine hidden in compartments onboard and detained suspected drug smugglers.

Hours later during a separate incident the crew of the CBP P-3 LRT detected a high speed vessel heading across the Caribbean Sea. The P-3 crew coordinated with the Colombian Air Force and maritime assets in an attempt to intercept the boat. The smugglers dumped a large amount of suspected narcotics into the water before beaching the vessel on the Colombian coast.

CBP OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the 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.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017