Feds Aid in $97 Million Cocaine Bust

Feds Aid in $97 Million Cocaine Bust

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents initiated a $97 million cocaine bust on November 17. The drugs, which weighed 1,300 pounds, were seized from a vessel Southwest of Panama. 

According to CBP, an Office of Air and Marine (OAM) crew detected the suspicious vessel from a P-3 Orion Long Range Tracker aircraft. The agents alerted Panamanian law enforcement, who ultimately made the drug bust. 

During the seizure, suspected drug smugglers — all of whom were eventually apprehended by law enforcement — reportedly threw 17 bales of drugs overboard in an effort to avoid capture. 

U.S. law enforcement regularly patrols the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific in order to intercept large drug operations. Such efforts are a part of Operation MARTILLO, which includes participation from 14 separate nations working cooperatively, CBP reported. 

Doug Garner, the Director of the National Air Security Operations Center, said in a statement, “Our agents work tirelessly to disrupt transnational criminal activity. We have developed a strong alliance with our international partners and this seizure is just the latest example.”

During Fiscal Year 2014 alone, P-3s belonging to CBP conducted 135 drug busts on vessels and aircraft. The seizsures resulted in the interception of more than 125,000 pounds of cocaine with a street value of almost $10 million. 

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate