The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant returned home Sunday to Cape Canaveral after a 55-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific.
The Vigilant crew’s efforts during their patrol led to the seizure of 2,155 kgs of cocaine, 30 lbs of marijuana, and one pound of amphetamine valued at $81.7 million, and the detention of eleven suspected narco-traffickers.
While on patrol, the Vigilant crew interdicted three suspected drug smuggling vessels with two of the interdictions both occurring within a 24-hour span. The first interdiction occurred when the crew intercepted a 45-foot low profile vessel smuggling 810 kgs of cocaine. The Vigilant crew resumed their patrol after the four suspected smugglers aboard were detained and evidence to facilitate prosecution was collected. Eight hours later, the crew interdicted a second vessel, a 35-foot panga, on which Vigilant’s boarding team seized 355 kgs of cocaine, 30 lbs of marijuana, and one pound of amphetamine, and detained four suspected smugglers. The removal of large quantities of contraband through interdictions such as these disrupts the operations of transnational criminal organizations, deterring violence and promoting the stability of governments in the region. Law enforcement boardings and the subsequent processing of the cases, to include evidence preservation, care and feeding of detainees, and documentation of the incident, are evolutions that involve all members of the crew.
While in the Pacific, the Vigilant crew worked with several U.S. and partner nation assets, including a Military Sealift Command ship and three Coast Guard cutters. In Panama, the crew conducted a professional exchange and training with officials from Panamanian law enforcement and military agencies to promote regional stability and security, economic prosperity, and resiliency through collaborative engagement. The Vigilant also hosted Panama’s Tactical Unit of Drug Operations and the National Aeronaval Service to share the Coast Guard’s process for collecting and preserving evidence to support the prosecution of smuggling cases. During a brief stop in Ecuador, the crew liaised with the Ecuadorian Navy and local government officials to coordinate a short-fused custodial transfer of an Ecuadorian national suspected of drug smuggling. The successful transfer of the suspected narco-trafficker highlighted the nation’s commitment to strengthening the interoperability with the Ecuadorian government in the enduring fight against transnational organized crime in the maritime domain.
The Vigilant is a multi-mission 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter whose missions include illegal drug and migrant interdiction, as well as search and rescue. The Vigilant patrols throughout the Caribbean basin, Atlantic seaboard and periodically the Eastern Pacific Ocean to ensure safety of life at sea and enforce international and domestic laws.