MIAMI -- More than 5 tons of cocaine seized in international waters off the Eastern Pacific Ocean from early June to mid-July was offloaded by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton Wednesday in Port Everglades.
The drugs were seized during the interdiction of five suspected smuggling vessels and the recovery of two floating bale fields found off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by the Coast Guard cutters Hamilton (WMSL-753), Alert (WMEC-630), and Venturous (WMEC-625).
Hamilton was responsible for four cases, seizing an estimated 2,962 kilograms of cocaine.
The cutter Alert was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 2,253 kilograms of cocaine.
The cutter Venturous was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 616 kilograms of cocaine and 50 pounds of marijuana.
"The men and women aboard Hamilton, and those on all of the cutters who intercepted these illicit drugs, epitomize excellence and dedication," said Cmdr. Eric Helgen, cutter Hamilton executive officer. "These cutter crews spend over half of the year deployed in the fight against transnational criminal organizations who spread misery throughout Central and South America. Without the service and sacrifice of our Coast Guard men and women, the criminals engaged in the transshipment of drugs like those on Hamilton's flight deck, would operate unchecked, ultimately threatening the safety and security of our borders."
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 transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in districts across the nation.
The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Helgen added, "The tremendous cooperation and partnerships with countries throughout Central and South America continue to make a lasting impact in this fight"
The cutter Hamilton is 418-foot national security cutter homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. The cutter Alert is 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Astoria, Oregon. The cutter Venturous is also a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida.