Federal aircrew members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) detected suspicious boats and maintained surveillance until partners could interdict the load of 1,470 pounds of cocaine.
The AMO aircrew based out of Florida detected three “go-fast” type vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean just south of Panama. During a flight lasting over twenty hours, the P-3 Long Range Tracker aircrew was able to monitor the vessels and vector in operational partners to help secure the boats and much of their cargo, information provided by CBP to Breitbart Texas revealed. The seizure of the boats and drugs took place on April 20, but news of the operation was held until Monday.
Officials stated the boats were seen congregating in an area that is well known for drug trafficking activity. Interdiction assets were located a long distance away from the targets. This prevented the AMO P-3 aircrew from monitoring directly overhead. Instead, the aircrew maintained a covert surveillance operation for nearly a full day until other assets could arrive on scene.
The AMO aircrew coordinated with interagency partners who were able to intercept the vessels and seize 1,470 pounds of cocaine. Three suspects were arrested and taken into custody.
Before the interdiction could be finalized, the crew members of the boats were able to dump an estimated 1,800 pounds of contraband into the ocean while they attempted to escape.
“The AMO P-3 crew, working almost 20 continuous hours, demonstrates the immeasurable dedication to the mission,” National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC)-Jacksonville’s Director of Air Operations Robert Blanchard said in the statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “It also highlights the effective teamwork between Air and Marine Operations and U.S. Coast Guard crews.”
Another AMO P-3 aircrew based in Corpus Christi, Texas, was working the eastern Pacific Ocean region in March. Breitbart Texas reported. During this mission, the aircrew detected a semi-submersible “narco submarine” vessel that was carrying 12,800 pounds of cocaine. The load was estimated to be valued at nearly $200,000,000. The AMO aircrew vectored Coast Guard partners to interdict the vessel and make the seizure. Four suspects were taken into custody in that incident.
Since the beginning of Operation Martillo (Spanish for hammer) in 2012, task force partners have seized 693 metric tons of cocaine and $25 million in cash. They have detained nearly 1,863 suspects, and seized 581 vessels and aircraft.
Officials reported that NASOC Jacksonville recently completed its most successful year since beginning operations in 1999.