The Coast Guard Cutter James (WMSL-754) crew is scheduled to offload approximately 23,000 pounds of cocaine and approximately 6,900 pounds of marijuana Tuesday, all worth more than an estimated $408 million.
The drugs were interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, and in the Caribbean Sea including contraband seized and recovered during 11 interdictions of suspected drug smuggling vessels by four Coast Guard cutters and two U.S. Navy ships:
- The cutter James was responsible for four interdictions, seizing approximately 8,400 pounds of cocaine and 3,350 pounds of marijuana.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC-913) was responsible for one interdiction seizing approximately 1,700 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Confidence (WMEC-619) was responsible for one interdiction seizing approximately 1,089 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba (WMEC-907) was responsible for one interdiction seizing approximately 2,200 pounds of cocaine.
- The USS Pinckney (DDG-91) was responsible for two interdictions seizing approximately 9,050 pounds of cocaine.
- The USS Lassen (DDG-82) was responsible for two interdictions seizing approximately 575 pounds of cocaine and 3,575 pounds of marijuana.
“Under the leadership of U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South, Coast Guard and Navy forces worked side by side to stop the flow of illegal narcotics on the high seas before it could make landfall in Central America and continue its northward journey into the United States,” said Capt. Jeffrey Randall, commanding officer of the cutter James. “Working along side our partner agencies, we continue to take the fight to the drug cartels and make an impact on these criminal organizations who spread this poison on our streets. I couldn’t be more proud of my crew and their hard work.”
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California, and the law enforcement phase of operations in the Caribbean is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 7th District, headquartered in Miami. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The cutter James is a 418-foot national security cutter home ported in Charleston, South Carolina. The cutter Mohawk is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Key West, Florida. The cutter Escanaba is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Boston. The cutter Confidence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Port Canaveral, Florida. The USS Pinckney is a 510-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer home ported in Naval Base San Diego. The USS Lassen is a 510-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer home ported in Naval Station Mayport, Florida.