Highly trained U.S. Border agents patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean captured a boat smuggling 1,540 pounds of cocaine in a special operations mission.
A Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) crew out patrolling on Feb. 27, 2017 tracked and intercepted the smuggling operation. The AMO crew was operating a P-3 Long Range Tracker aircraft in the as part of a Joint Interagency Task Force’s ‘Operation Martillo.’
According to a release from Border Protection, the crew “detected a fast-moving object consistent with a drug-running vessel. The crew maintained surveillance of the small fishing boat and coordinated an intercept with JIATF South and a nearby a U.S. Coast Guard cutter operating in the vicinity.”
The crew kept their surveillance on the boat as a US Coast Guard cutter closed in. While waiting on the Coast Guard vessel, the crew noticed two more such boats nearby.
“Yet again, our crews delivered a setback to those involved in transnational narcotics trafficking, one blow at a time” said National Air Security Operations Center – Corpus Christi Director John Wassong. “Deploying crews to intercept drug smuggling attempts south of the U.S. border pays off tremendously.”
The Coast Guard cutter intercepted all three vessels and arrested the crew, seized the go-fast boats and recovered 1,540 pounds of cocaine. The suspected smugglers threw 3,968 pounds of cocaine overboard before the Coast Guard apprehended them. All nine suspects are facing charges in the U.S.
The Border Patrol’s “distinctive detection capabilities allow highly trained crews to identify threats well beyond the land borders of the United States. By conducting surveillance of known air, land and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is almost 14 times the size of the continental United States, the P-3 crews detect and disrupt smuggling attempts before they reach U.S. shores.”
In 2016, AMO P-3 aircrews operating from Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, directly contributed to 145 drug seizure or disruption incidents in the transit zone, resulting in the interdiction of 34,108 pounds of marijuana and 193,197 pounds of cocaine.