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CBP’s Air and Marine Operations, Interagency Partners Thwart Attempts to Smuggle 4,659 Pounds of Cocaine

Release Date: 
July 6, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrew, in coordination with interagency partners, conducted continuous overhead surveillance during the interdiction of vessels carrying more than 4,659 pounds of cocaine in the eastern Pacific Ocean, June 18-19. The estimated wholesale value of the cocaine is approximately $60.7 million.

CBP's Air and Marine Operations tracks a suspicious vessel
CBP's Air and Marine Operations tracks a
suspicious vessel

An AMO crew aboard a  P-3 Long Range TrackerP-3 Long Range Tracker aircraft detected multiple suspected drug smuggling vessels, known as pangas, during operations in international waters, and coordinated with Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATF South) to interdict.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted both vessels, arrested three suspects, and recovered 24 bales of cocaine.

The P-3 crew patrolling during the operation is based at the National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville, Florida. AMO P-3 crews perform a wide variety of operational missions along the U.S. border and in the drug transit zones.

“Our dedicated P-3 crews patrol the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific with advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities as part of a whole-of-government approach to interdict contraband before it reaches our shores,” said Director, National Air Security Operations Center –Jacksonville, Robert Blanchard. “Our agents serve and protect the American people with vigor and vigilance using unique skill sets to preserve America's security interests.”

Contraband seized by authorities.
Contraband seized by authorities.

The latest interdictions are part of Operation Martillo (Spanish for 'hammer'), which targets illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. The international operation includes the participation of 17 countries committed to a regional approach against transnational criminal organizations.

Operation Martillo is coordinated by JIATF South, a component of U.S. Southern Command, focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies, to counter illicit trafficking.

CBP's Air and Marine Operations is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. AMO interdicts unlawful people and cargo approaching U.S. borders, investigates criminal networks and provides domain awareness in the air and maritime environments, and responds to contingencies and national taskings.

With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.

In Fiscal Year 2016, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the approximate seizure or disruption of 221,707 pounds of cocaine; 654,891 pounds of marijuana; 3,881 pounds of methamphetamine; 940 weapons and $35.7 million; 4,303 arrests and 55,923 apprehensions of illegal aliens.

For breaking news and regional updates on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations follow @CustomsBorder @CBPFlorida and @CBPCaribbean on Twitter.

P-3 crews patrol the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to interdict contraband before it reaches our shores.  Watch this video to learn more.

Last modified: 
September 13, 2018