CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine agents, operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Corpus Christi, Texas, assisted in the interdiction of 1,443 pounds of marijuana on Nov. 23.
While on patrol as part of Operation Martillo, an OAM aircrew aboard a CBP P-3 Long Range Tracker spotted a suspicious go-fast vessel in the waters south of San Andres, Colombia.
Suspected drug smugglers on the vessel began dumping bales overboard and the P-3 crew coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to intercept the vessel. The USCG detained three suspects and Colombian authorities recovered marijuana with an estimated street value of $3.6 million.
"It's truly a collaborative effort to detect, monitor and interdict illicit traffickers," said NASOC-CC Director John Wassong. "We'll continue to work with our interagency partners to deny drug smugglers a safe haven."
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. This seizure was, in part, due to the strong alliance formed with U.S. and partner nations under Operation Martillo.
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. Joint Interagency Task Force South, a National Task Force, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists U.S. and multi-national law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of these illicit traffickers.
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.
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.