Coast Guard offloads $48 million of cocaine

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant offloaded more than 3,800 lbs. of cocaine, with a wholesale value of more than $48 million, at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach Friday.

The seized cocaine comes from three interdictions in the Caribbean that began on May 31.

The Valiant’s crew seized more than 2,600 lbs. of cocaine from suspected smugglers aboard a 35-foot go-fast vessel, on May 31, with the assistance of a Coast Guard helicopter crew, the U.S Navy and the Nicaraguan navy. The crew took five suspects into custody and seized $32.5 million of cocaine. To view photos from this interdiction click here.

On June 10, a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) deployed aboard the Navy frigate USS Elrod homeported in Norfolk, Va., interdicted a suspected smuggling vessel carrying more than 1,000 lbs. of cocaine. The crews of the Elrod and a Coast Guard LEDET recovered approximately $13 million of cocaine and took four suspected smugglers into custody.

The third interdiction took place June 15 when the USS Carr, homeported in Norfolk, Va., and a LEDET seized 220 lbs. of cocaine found aboard a 40-foot sailing vessel off the coast of Colombia. The LEDET took three suspects into custody along with approximately $3 million worth of cocaine.

LEDETs, an armed, deployable, specialized force, support narcotics interdiction operations aboard Navy and allied warships and are capable of supporting Department of Defense national defense operations.

The interdiction was part of Operation Martillo, a joint, interagency, international operation designed to deny criminal organizations air, land and maritime use of Central American transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash.

“Seizures at sea are the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep cocaine off the streets of America,” said Cmdr. John Dettleff, commanding officer aboard the Valiant, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Miami. “Coast Guard cutters have interdicted more than 75,000 pounds of cocaine since Oct. 1, 2011, which is 25,000 lbs more than land-based, U.S. law enforcement personnel seized in all of 2010.”

Medium endurance cutters like the Valiant are built for multiweek offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications, and helicopter and pursuit boat operations, which provide a key capability for homeland security missions at sea.

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