Eastern Pacific Ocean—Law enforcement crews aboard the Alameda-based Cutter Morgenthau seized more than 4,000 pounds of cocaine from a go-fast boat and apprehended four suspects Tuesday, July 24, during a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said today.
"It all began when a maritime patrol aircraft flying above international waters off the coast of Panama spotted a speeding boat in the early morning hours," said a member of the Coast Guard's public affairs staff. "Suspicious, the air crew notified the cutter, which was patrolling nearby.
"As the Morgenthau neared the area and spotted the target, it deployed its onboard helicopter and two small boats to intercept the speeding boat. When the helicopter flew above the speeding boat, the vessel’s crew began to throw bales of suspected contraband overboard."
The helicopter's crew disabled the boat by firing a precision rifle at its outboard engines, the Coast Guard said. The helicopter and flight crew are from the Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Morgenthau’s law enforcement crew then took custody of the suspects and recovered the floating bales, which tested positive for cocaine, the Coast Guard said.
“These very large seizures at sea are the most effective way to keep cocaine off the streets of America,” said Capt. Gregory Burg, commanding officer aboard the Morgenthau. “Our incredibly dedicated group of sailors continue to leave their families for months at a time to provide this vital service to the nation.”
Commissioned on March 10, 1969, the Morgenthau has a crew of approximately 165 men and women whose missions include search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, fisheries and maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection and homeland security.
The Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of the U.S. Southern Command, is responsible for the overall coordination of the counter-drug mission in the Eastern Pacific. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District, based in Alameda, or by law enforcement agencies of partner nations in the region.
Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau remains on patrol in the Eastern Pacific.