Corpus Christi, Texas - A U.S. Customs and Border Protection P-3 aircraft operating from Corpus Christi disrupted a large cocaine smuggling attempt when the crew detected a single-outboard engine Panga vessel operating off the coast of Liberia, Costa Rica.
The open hull boat carried four crewmembers and approximately 35 blue plastic containers, each holding an estimated 10-25 gallons of liquid.
P-3 operators became suspicious when the fishing vessel lacked fishing gear. After boarding, agents discovered the vessel contained more than 6,600 pounds of cocaine. The approximate street value of the disruption is $82 million.
The CBP P-3 centers, located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Fla., are credited with seizing or disrupting 257,252 pounds of cocaine in 2009, with an estimated street value of more than $3.2 billion. This is more than four times the amount seized at every port of entry in the United States during that same time period.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the P-3's use by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and a celebration is planned later this year in Corpus Christi. The 40-year-old planes are getting a "face lift" this year, with new wings replacing the old, saving the agency millions of dollars in maintenance costs and adding an additional 15,000 hours of flight time to CBP's existing P-3 fleet.
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.