PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Coast Guard cutter and crew returned to their homeport in Portsmouth September 1 following a 66-day patrol in the Caribbean Sea in support of Operation Martillo, an international, interagency counter-illicit trafficking effort.
During the two-month patrol, the Coast Guard Cutter Forward, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter, partnered with a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) from Jacksonville, Fla., and executed 12 cases, including three armed drug seizures and a medevac flight.
Crew members from the Forward, the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous and a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew interdicted two boats July 22, resulting in the arrest of 12 suspected smugglers and the seizure of approximately 5,300 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $64.8 million.
The crews of the Forward and Venturous also collaborated to interdict a boat July 30, resulting in the seizure of 4,190 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $51.3 million.
"The crew of Forward made our mission a success, remaining fully mission capable during the entire patrol, allowing for no interruption in maritime law enforcement and counter-drug operations,” said Cmdr. Michael Stewart, the commanding officer of the Forward. “I could not be more proud of the crew for the example they set while conducting these missions."
The Forward also collaborated with the Honduran Navy in order to transfer five suspected smugglers into Honduran federal custody to await trial.
Operation Martillo is a joint interagency, international operation designed to deny Transnational Criminal Organizations air, land and maritime use of Central American transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash.