Coast Guard Cutter Returns After $90 Million Cocaine Seizure

BANGOR, Maine -- Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma returned to its homeport in Kittery on Friday after a 49-day patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea that resulted in the seizure of cocaine worth an estimated $90 million on the streets.

During the patrol, Tahoma's crew conducted drug interdiction efforts, strategically intercepting and boarding suspected smuggling vessels. During the mission, the crew seized four open-hulled outboard powered panga-style fishing vessels illegally transporting approximately 3,130 kilograms of cocaine, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

Tahoma's crew worked with a helicopter detachment from Jacksonville, Florida's Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron and U.S. and international partner agencies to detect and prosecute these cases.

Of the crew's four seizures, three occurred within a five-day span over the Christmas holiday. Each case required a high-speed chase by the Tahoma's pursuit boat teams and use of the armed helicopter to disable the engines of fleeing suspect vessels.

The Tahoma's crew deployed during a period of high flows of illegal drugs in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The vessel was deployed from its homeport to the waters off the coast of Central America, requiring the cutter to make transit both ways through the Panama Canal.

In total, the 270-foot cutter and its more than 90 crew members traveled more than 11,500 nautical miles in support of the Coast Guard's Western Hemisphere Strategy and Joint Interagency Task Force South initiatives.

"I'm tremendously pleased with the professionalism, dedication and success of Tahoma's crew and her assigned armed helicopter detachment," Cmdr. Tim Brown, Tahoma's commanding officer, said.

"They responded expertly to any reported suspect vessels at all hours of the day and night. They also overcame many difficulties like being away from home over the Christmas and New Year's holidays and patrolling for weeks on end without a break," Brown said. "This crew responded with aplomb, helping protect our nation from the violence, death and destruction caused by the trafficking of cocaine to our communities."

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