HOUSTON, Texas — More than 679 pounds of cocaine, worth over $9 million, were seized with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine agents operating off the southern coast of Texas.
Agents aboard a P-3 Orion aircraft alerted Nicaraguan authorities of a suspicious “go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea south of Corn Island,” CPB reported in a press release. Corn Island lies about 70 kilometers east of Nicaragua.
Officials in Nicaragua responded to CBP’s alert, and discovered 11 bales of drugs on the vessel, as well as eight additional bales that were thrown overboard. According to CBP, three individuals were arrested during the bust. They were recovering firearms aboard the vessel at the time of the large seizure.
MARTILLO is an effort by U.S. law enforcement agencies to stop drug trafficking on an international level. Authorities do this by patrolling around the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific, according to CBP.
This large-scale effort has lead to the U.S. forming strong alliances with authorities in other nations. In total, 14 different countries have collaborated with the U.S. under operation MARTILLO.
CBP additionally reported that in Fiscal Year 2014 alone, CBP’s aircraft operating out of South Texas and Florida successfully detected 149 vessels suspected of drug smuggling. As a result, more than 110,000 pounds of cocaine were seized that year.
National Air Security Operations Center Director Thomas Salter said in a statement, “Working with our partner nations and interagency cooperation is crucial. Our dedicated agents remain vigilant in disrupting transnational criminal activity.”
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