ARLINGTON, Va. — A Miami-based U. S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and the crew of USS Gary (FFG-51) stopped a go-fast carrying more than 600 pounds of cocaine approximately 100 off the coast of El Salvador Jan. 4
While on a routine patrol, a maritime patrol aircraft sighted the suspicious vessel dead in the water. The Eleventh Coast Guard District directed the Gary to deploy its joint Coast Guard LEDET/Navy Visit Board Search and Seize boat crew to intercept the vessel.
“Our Coast Guard LEDETs work closely with the Navy and bring specialized skills to these joint operations,” said Cmdr. Robert Landolfi, Tactical Law Enforcement Team South’s commanding officer. “Their training enables them to gain control of a smuggling vessel and locate secret compartments used to hide narcotics.”
The Coast Guard LEDET conducted a boarding of the vessel and discovered 318 bales in a hidden compartment. The bales tested positive for cocaine. The Coast Guard LEDET seized the cocaine and detained the two suspected smugglers.
Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by the Joint Interagency Task Force, South (JIATF-S) headquartered in Key West, Fla. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.
LEDETs are an armed deployable specialized force under the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deployable Operations Group. They were created to support narcotics interdiction operations aboard U.S. Navy and allied warships and are capable of supporting Department of Defense national defense operations. LEDETs provide specialized law enforcement capability and maritime security capabilities to enforce U.S. laws across a full spectrum of maritime response situations, maritime security augmentation and maritime interdiction anti-piracy operations.