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 1,100 pounds of cocaine approximately 300 miles off the Pacific coast of Colombia, Feb. 23.
While on a routine patrol, the Gary’s helicopter sighted a suspicious vessel whose crew began jettisoning bale shaped packages overboard. The Eleventh Coast Guard District directed the Gary to deploy its joint Coast Guard LEDET/Navy Visit Board Search and Seize boat crew to conduct a law enforcement boarding of the vessel.
“Our partnership with the Navy extends the reach of our Coast Guard LEDETs,” said Cmdr. Robert Landolfi, Tactical Law Enforcement Team South’s commanding officer. “This enables Joint Interagency Task Force, South to leverage our teams’ law enforcement authority and specialized skills to successfully stop illegal narcotics from reaching our shores.”
The Coast Guard LEDET recovered and seized 15 bales from the water. The white substance inside the bales tested positive for cocaine. They also detained three 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.