JACKSONVILLE, FLA.—A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) P-3 aircraft operating out of National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC-JAX), detected a speedboat carrying more than 1,400 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated value of nearly $13 million.
The P-3 crew, operating as part of the Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATF-S), was on patrol near the Colombian coastline when they spotted a speedboat carrying three people, numerous packages and five barrels of fuel, moving rapidly through open waters.
The P-3 crew vectored a Dutch vessel near the speedboat’s location. As the Dutch vessel neared the speed boat, it launched an air asset to intercept the speedboat. With the Dutch helicopter overhead, the speedboat crew began dumping packages into the ocean, conducting evasive maneuvers, and travelling at a high rate of speed.
The Dutch air asset used disabling fire to stop the speedboat. Three suspects were taken into custody and the Dutch crew recovered the bundled cocaine which weighed more than 1,400 pounds.
“This latest disruption illustrates our commitment to detecting and intercepting illicit narcotics before they reach shore,” said Doug Garner, CBP Director of National Air Security Operations in Jacksonville. “Detecting and monitoring illicit activity are important elements of a counter-narcotic mission, but coordinating assets to make the interdictions, arrests and recovery of the illegal drugs marks a successful mission.”
CBP OAM P-3s have been an integral part of JIATFS. The P-3s patrol a 42 million square mile area of the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit towards U.S. shores. The P-3s’ distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders of the U.S. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the continental U.S.; the P-3s detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.
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.