News: Coast Guard Offloads $16 Million Worth of Drugs

A Coast Guard Base Miami Beach smallboat crew in coordination with the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant offloaded 50 bales of marijuana and 15 bales of cocaine at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach early Friday morning.

The drugs are the results of two interdictions carried out as part of Operation Martillo.

On Sept. 29, the Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team aboard, located a 40-foot drug smuggling vessel with two people on board north of San Andres Island, Colombia. The two were quickly throwing multiple bales of contraband into the ocean. The suspected smugglers got away, but the Lancaster crew recovered 50 bales of marijuana.

On Oct. 2, the Coast Guard Seventh District Command Center received a report from the Lancaster that another suspected smuggling vessel covered with a blue tarp also near San Andres Island was found. These suspects were seen hurriedly throwing bales from their boat. Together with the Royal Canadian Navy ship Preserver, the Lancaster helicopter stopped the vessel and a law enforcement team boarded. They recovered 15 bales of cocaine and the four suspected smugglers were taken into custody.

These missions were carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.

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