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  4. Air and Marine Operations P-3 Crews and Partners Seize Almost 6 Tons of Narcotics in 8 Days in Eastern Pacific

Air and Marine Operations P-3 Crews and Partners Seize Almost 6 Tons of Narcotics in 8 Days in Eastern Pacific

Release Date
Tue, 06/15/2021

WASHINGTON – Air and Marine Operations (AMO) National Air Security Operations Center, P-3 Long Range Tracker and Airborne Early Warning crews partnered with Joint Interagency Task Force-South and federal authorities to stop transnational smuggling of almost six tons of narcotics between April 16 and April 24 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, denying narcotics traffickers an estimated $156 million in illicit proceeds.

Over an eight-day period, AMO P-3 aircrews conducted detection and sustained tracking operations that led law enforcement partners to detain 15 individuals and seize a total of 7,805 pounds of cocaine and 3,588 pounds of marijuana in the Pacific Source and Transit Zone for illicit drugs.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine
Operations (AMO) operates the P-3 Long Range
Tracker and Airborne Early Warning aircraft which
perform a wide variety of operational missions,
especially those that require long station time
overhead, hemispheric range, and missions
throughout all weather and environmental
  • On April 16, a Long Range Tracker crew identified a suspect vessel while on patrol. A United States Coast Guard (USCG) team aboard The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Saskatoon detained five crew members and seized more than two tons of cocaine.
  • On April 17, a Long Range Tracker crew located a suspect vessel. A Colombian law enforcement team intercepted the vessel, detained three crew members, and seized 1.7 tons of marijuana and 40 pounds of cocaine.
  • On April 20, a P-3 Airborne Early Warning crew detected a suspect vessel and maintained observation of the vessel’s activity. USCG Cutter Tahoma launched interceptor vessels to interdict the suspect vessel crew. The USGC team seized 2,403 pounds of cocaine and detained four crew members.
  • On April 24, a P-3 Long Range Tracker crew worked with a USCG HC-130 aircrew to monitor a suspect vessel and guide partner nation aircraft and vessel teams for interdiction. The Panamanian boarding team detained three crew members and seized 1,323 pounds of cocaine and 200 pounds of marijuana.

National Air Security Operations Center P-3 capabilities continue to prove essential to United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Counter Narcotics Operations, coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S), contributing to an increased law enforcement presence in narcotics transit zones. This partnership bolsters the effectiveness of U.S. and international law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to increase interdictions. Key SOUTHCOM partners have been involved in over 60 percent of drug disruptions since April 2020.

AMO has two P-3 National Air Security Operations Centers located in Jacksonville, FL and Corpus Christi, TX. These P-3 aircraft operate throughout North, Central and South America in defense of the borders of the United States and to prevent attempts to smuggle persons or contraband.

AMO safeguards our Nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. 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 2020, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the seizure or disruption of 194,220 pounds of cocaine, 278,492 pounds of marijuana, 15,985 pounds of methamphetamine, 952 weapons and $51.5 million as well as 1,066 arrests and 47,872 apprehensions of undocumented migrants.


Last Modified: Oct 06, 2023