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CBP Busts Net $1.3 Billion in Cocaine in One Week

Release Date: 
April 10, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In three separate incidents in a one-week period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) P-3s operating out of National Air Security Operations Centers in Jacksonville, Fla. (NASOC-JAX) and Corpus Christi, Texas (NASOC-CC), assisted in the interdiction of a Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) carrying close to 14,000 pounds of cocaine, and two go-fast vessels carrying more than 4,400 pounds of cocaine with a combined value of more than $1.3 billion.

On March 29, two P-3s operating in the Western Caribbean assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) in locating and tracking a SPSS off the coast of Nicaragua. The crew scuttled the SPSS but authorities recovered 13,889 pounds of cocaine worth more than $1 billion.

On March 30, a P-3 operating in the Western Caribbean spotted a go-fast vessel carrying suspicious bales. The 40-foot twin-engine vessel was spotted speeding north off the coast of Panama and appeared to be carrying numerous packages when the Florida-based CBP P-3 began tracking the vessel. A local law enforcement patrol boat was vectored in to board the vessel and after inspection, 2,200 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $164 million were recovered.

On April 4, a P-3 conducting routine patrols in the Western Caribbean detected an open-hull go-fast vessel containing rectangular bales off the coast of Panama. Local law enforcement officials were called in to pursue, and after boarding the vessel, 2,200 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $164 million were seized and four crewmembers were arrested.

These three seizures are in addition to $1.3 billion detected by the CBP P-3s operating out of Jacksonville, Fla. and Corpus Christi, Texas in fiscal year 2012 to date.

During fiscal year 2011, the CBP P-3 fleet continued its anti-smuggling success by seizing or disrupting more than 148,000 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $11.1 billion, totaling 20.6 pounds seized for every flight hour, valued at $1.5 million for every hour flown.

CBP OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATFS). The P-3s patrol in a six 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.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021