CARIBBEAN 360 – The United States Coast Guard has seized 254 kilogrammes of cocaine and 3,662 pounds of marijuana in the Caribbean Sea as part of Operation Martillo, worth an estimated wholesale value of US$11.8 million.
The first set of contraband was found after a maritime patrol aircraft reported a suspicious Panamanian flagged sailing vessel southeast of Nicaragua on September 2, according to a statement issued by the US Coast Guard over the weekend.
It said Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered attempted to contact the vessel, and with no response to radio calls and the vessel not slowing down, the Robert Yered launched its small boat with a law enforcement team and subsequently boarded the vessel.
The boarding team discovered 254 kilogrammes of cocaine in a hidden compartment worth an estimated wholesale value of $8.5 million. Three suspects were transferred to law enforcement authorities in Tampa, Florida.
A day later, the marijuana was seized. The Coast Guard had received a report of three people clinging to a capsized vessel and the cutter Vigilant arrived on scene and rescued the three people from the nearly sunk boat.
While on the way to the capsized vessel, the Vigilant located 68 bales of marijuana floating in the water. More than 3,600 pounds of marijuana with an estimated wholesale value of US$3.3 million was recovered.
“These seizures highlight the hard work and dedication of the U.S. Coast Guard and our interagency and international partners in stopping illegal drugs from reaching the streets of the U.S. and those of our Caribbean neighbors,” said Lieutenant Earl Potter, Commanding Officer of the Miami based Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered.
The US Coast Guard said th0se two cases represented a fraction of its recent success against maritime drug smuggling.