Connect with us


Crew stop $215 million in cocaine, arrest 6 international narcotics smugglers



Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Hernandez U.S. Coast Guard District 7

BOSTON — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell (WMEC 909) returned to Kittery, Maine, on Monday, following a 63-day counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

During the patrol, Campbell’s crew navigated over 12,000 nautical miles, conducted 122 flight operation evolutions, transited the Panama Canal twice, and crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere.

Campbell’s successful law enforcement operations interdicted or disrupted over 11,600 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $215 million and apprehended six suspected international narcotics smugglers.

In transit south to the Panama Canal, Campbell embarked an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville, Florida.

During one interdiction, a bridge lookout, using night vision detection, sighted an unlit Low Profile Vessel transiting near the cutter at night. Upon detection, Campbell launched their 26-foot Over the Horizon pursuit boat to intercept the LPV with an embarked law enforcement boarding team.

Campbell’s boarding team assumed positive control of the vessel, took aboard three suspected smugglers, and disrupted the delivery of 4,400 pounds of cocaine. The night-time case occurred solely due to the alertness of the bridge lookout.

During another seizure, Campbell vectored toward a second LPV whose crew jettisoned its contraband after being detected by aerial surveillance. Campbell redeployed the Dolphin helicopter team. They stopped the LPV with disabling fire directed into the four outboard engines. Campbell’s crew was able to locate and recover the discarded packages, yielding an at-sea weight of 4,415 pounds, and tested positive for cocaine.

Campbell’s final case was also detected by aerial surveillance. Campbell again launched the Dolphin helicopter and OTH cutter boat to pursue a 35-foot panga-style “go-fast” vessel traveling at 30 knots with no navigation lights, fuel barrels, and cargo on deck in a known drug trafficking corridor. The Dolphin crew fired warning shots, bringing the vessel to a stop. Campbell retrieved 2,791 pounds of cocaine scrapped before the vessel boarding.

Not all of Campbell’s efforts veered toward interdicting narcotics. While patrolling, a crewmember spotted a sea turtle caught in fishing gear, struggling to dive. Campbell launched its OTH pursuit boat, and a team was able to free the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle from the debris.

Throughout the deployment, Campbell worked closely with U.S. Coast Guard and Navy assets on missions in support of Coast Guard’s 11th District, Joint Interagency Task Force South, and more broadly, the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere strategy to combating drug trafficking organization networks.

“Success during a narcotics patrol requires every member of the collective team to focus on the mission at hand, remain adaptable, and be forward-leaning in executing the mission,” said Capt. Thomas Crane, Campbell’s commanding officer. “We have a great team aboard Campbell focused on preventing the flow of illegal narcotics to North America. We were able to accomplish our goal and support the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy despite being away from family.”

The Campbell is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Kittery.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2017 Fall River Reporter

Translate »