CBP Air and Marine Units Seize 5 Tons of Drugs in 3 Days

UAS Operated by CBP Air and Marine Operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. (File Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Operations)
File Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Operations

CBP Air and Marine Operations agents operating Guardian Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) assisted in the seizure of five tons of drugs during a three-day period in March. Officials released information on Friday reporting the seizure of approximately $127 million in contraband.

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean on March 16, a Guardian UAS crew assigned to the National Air Security Operations Center identified a suspicious vessel. The UAS operators directed the interdiction of the go-fast vessel by coordinating with host-nation teams. The interdictions led to the seizure of 1,700 pounds of marijuana and the detention of three people, according to information obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

The following day, another Guardian UAS crew patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean teamed up with the United States Navy to identify and interdict a suspicious vessel. The USS Freedom (LCS-1) intercepted the vessel and an embedded U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment boarded. Law enforcement found 529 pounds of cocaine and another 1,695 pounds of marijuana. They also detained three people.

A third Guarding UAS aircrew, this one patrolling the Western Caribbean Sea, detected a suspicious vessel. The crew vectored multiple partner nation assets to the area and coordinated the interdiction. Following the interception of the vessel, law enforcement officials detained four people and seized 5,799 pounds of cocaine.

The three interdictions led to the arrest of ten suspected smugglers and the seizure of more than three tons of cocaine and nearly two tons of marijuana, officials stated. The seizures denied drug traffickers an estimated $127 million in revenue.

AMO has three UAS NASOCs located in Grand Forks, North Dakota; Sierra Vista, Arizona; and San Angelo, Texas. These UAS aircraft operate throughout North, Central and South America in defense of the borders of the United States and to prevent attempts to smuggle persons or contraband.

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