The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) returned home to Alameda today following an 82-day counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Last Wednesday the national security cutter crew offloaded more than 18,000 pounds of cocaine in San Diego estimated to be worth more than $312 million. The drugs represented seven separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions and disruptions by five Coast Guard cutter crews patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America between mid-October and early December.
Bertholf’s crew was responsible for three interdictions, seizing 5,851 pounds of cocaine worth more than an estimated $100 million.
Vice Adm. Linda L. Fagan, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, Southern District of California, and Principal Deputy Administrator Preston Grubbs, Drug Enforcement Agency addressed Bertholf’s crew prior to last week’s offload.
“This offload demonstrates another successful example of the ‘Cycle of Justice,’ said Fagan. “This cycle begins with intelligence-driven detection and monitoring of illicit activities that then cue the interdiction and apprehension of smugglers and contraband, and ultimately leads to criminal prosecution. This ‘Cycle of Justice’ disrupts a ‘Cycle of Crime,’ which left unchecked, fuels violence and instability that corrodes our Hemisphere’s social and economic fabric, and directly contributes to historically high drug-related deaths in neighborhoods across North America.”
The Bertholf has spent nearly nine months of 2019 deployed from home. Earlier in the year, the crew conducted a six-month patrol operating under the tactical control of commander, U.S. 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific.
“This has been a challenging and exciting year for Bertholf,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Laubenheimer, the cutter’s operations officer. “We started 2019 patrolling the East China and Yellow Seas while conducting United Nations sanctions enforcement, and we finish the year in the Eastern Pacific. Many late nights, long pursuits, and a lot of hard work went into making this a successful counter-drug patrol. We’re proud to operate alongside the other cutters, patrol aircraft and partner nation assets patrolling the Eastern Pacific to stem the flow of illegal drugs into our country. And of course we’re excited to be coming home for Christmas and are looking forward to some time with family.”