2,100 Pounds of Cocaine Seized in Eastern PacificAugust 7, 2019, 12:13 PM HST · Updated August 8, 12:29 PM 11 Comments
Crews aboard the pre-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WMSL 757) seized more than 2,100 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $64 million from a “low-profile go-fast vessel” intecepted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The cutter passed through the Panama Canal in July and is sailing to Midgett’s future homeport in Honolulu, where it will be commissioned Aug. 24, along with its sister-ship, the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL 756).
The go-fast vessel was spotted on July 25 by a U.S. Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk aircrew aboard the USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). “As the helicopter approached, a hatch opened on the top of the vessel and three passengers were seen jettisoning objects,” according to Coast Guard officials.
The Michael Murphy remained with the suspected smuggling vessel until the Midgett arrived on scene to conduct a law enforcement boarding. Midgett’s boarding team seized approximately 2,100 pounds of cocaine from the interdiction and apprehended three suspected smugglers.
“Even though the cutter is still in a pre-commission status, this interdiction showcases how ready our crew is and how capable the national security cutters are,” said Capt. Alan McCabe, Midgett’s commanding officer. “It also demonstrates the importance of our partnership with the U.S. Navy, whose contributions are vital in stemming the flow of drugs into the United States.”
Nearly 80% of all known illegal narcotics coming into North America are smuggled by international cartels through the eastern pacific corridor, according to Coast Guard officials. “As these cartels become more advanced in their methods at sea, the Coast Guard is recapitalizing its fleet with modern assets equipped to detect, interdict and disrupt the growing flow of illegal drugs, weapons and people in the Eastern Pacific,” the agency said.
Midgett, the Coast Guard’s eighth national security cutter, was accepted by the Coast Guard in April.
While national security cutters like the Midgett possess advanced operational capabilities, over 70% of the Coast Guard’s offshore presence is the service’s aging fleet of medium endurance cutters, many of which are over 50 years old and approaching the end of their service life.
Replacing the fleet with new offshore patrol cutters is one of the Coast Guard’s top priorities.
Coast Guard officials say the offshore patrol cutter will provide a critical capability bridge between national security cutters like the Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755), which offloaded 39,000 pounds of cocaine last month, and fast response cutters like the Robert Ward, which recently seized more than 3,000 pounds of the cocaine in the first cocaine seizure made by a fast response cutter in the Eastern Pacific.
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