The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL-753) crew offloaded more than 18,700 pounds of cocaine, nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana and 15 gallons of liquefied cocaine, all worth more than an estimate $324 million Friday at Port Everglades.
The drugs were interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, including contraband seized and recovered during 15 interdictions of suspected drug smuggling vessels by nine American and Canadian ships:
- The cutter Hamilton was responsible for two interdictions, seizing approximately 3,930 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Legare (WMEC-912) was responsible for three interdictions seizing approximately 1,640 pounds of cocaine and 690 pounds of marijuana.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant (WMEC-617) was responsible for three interdictions seizing approximately 4,720 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC-913) was responsible for two interdictions seizing approximately 940 pounds of cocaine and 1,500 gallons of liquefied cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902) was responsible one interdiction seizing approximately 2,680 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC-908) was responsible one interdiction seizing approximately 730 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC-623) was responsible one interdiction seizing approximately 1,250 pounds of cocaine.
- The USS Tornado (PC-14) was responsible one interdiction seizing approximately 650 pounds of cocaine and 850 pounds of marijuana.
- The HMCS Nanaimo (MM-702) was responsible one interdiction seizing approximately 2,430 pounds of cocaine.
“These seizures highlight how effective the U.S. Coast Guard and our partners are working together to disrupt the flow of illicit drugs into the United States,” said Capt. Timothy Cronin, commanding officer of the cutter Hamilton. “Not only do we keep these harmful substances off our streets, but we chip away at the Transnational Criminal Organizations that fuel violence and instability in the Western Hemisphere. I am always proud of this crew, but to witness their resiliency and dedication while their families at home deal with the nationwide crisis has been nothing short of remarkable.”
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in districts across the nation.
During at-sea interdictions, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The cutter Hamilton is a 418-foot national security cutter home ported in Charleston, South Carolina. The cutters Legare and Tampa are a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The cutter Mohawk is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Key West, Florida. The cutter Tahoma is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The cutter Vigilant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Port Canaveral, Florida. The cutter Steadfast is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Warrenton, Oregon. The USS Tornado is a 179-foot Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship home ported in Jacksonville, Florida. The HMCS Nanaimo is a 181-foot Royal Canadian Navy Kingston-class coastal defence vessel home ported at the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, in British Colombia, Canada.