WASHINGTON D.C. — An Air and Marine Operations (AMO) National Air Security Operations MQ-9 Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) crewed by AMO personnel and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) members worked with Joint Interagency Task Force — South and international partners to seize 2,646 pounds of cocaine and detain three people in the Eastern Pacific on March 17. This counterdrug collaboration between AMO, federal, and international law enforcement partners resulted in a narcotics seizure that denied transnational criminal organizations an estimated $30million U.S. dollars wholesale value.
The UAS team detected a go-fast vessel suspected of involvement in the transportation of narcotics through the Eastern Pacific transit zone. The team notified partner nation law enforcement forces and guided them to the location of the suspect vessel. International partners seized 2,646 pounds of cocaine on board the vessel and apprehended three Columbian nationals.
AMO operates the MQ-9 UAS to increase domain awareness in the land and maritime environments. The UAS platforms are remotely piloted, high-endurance assets that can be equipped with radar and camera sensors. The MQ-9 serves a vital role in various mission sets including low profile aerial surveillance, land border security, maritime surface detection and monitoring, and national disaster relief efforts.
During fiscal year (FY) 2021, AMO UAS crews reported 72,836 detections of cross-border and maritime traffic suspected of illegal activity. Additionally, missions conducted by AMO UAS crews in FY 2021 led to the seizure of 9,541 pounds of marijuana and 9,773 pounds of cocaine. National Air Security Operations MQ-9 UAS capabilities are vital in partnership with United States Southern Command operations, contributing to the command’s support of increased law enforcement efforts in narcotics trafficking transit zones. This partnership bolsters support to U.S. and international law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand targets.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 FY 2021, AMO enforcement actions resulted in 1,119 arrests and 122,035 apprehensions of undocumented individuals as well as the seizure or disruption of 324,772 pounds of cocaine, 779,725 pounds of marijuana, 18,548 pounds of methamphetamine, 900 weapons and $73.3 million.