USS Elrod Recovers 89 Bales of Cocaine in Support of Operation Martillo

USS Elrod Recovers 89 Bales of Cocaine in Support of Operation Martillo

Guided missile frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) recovered 89 bales of cocaine in support of Operation Martillo on April 20 in the Western Caribbean Sea.

An SH-60B Sea Hawk assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 60 Det. 3, embarked on board Elrod responded after receiving a transmission from a P-3 operated by U.S. Customs Border Protection.

Elrod joined in pursuit, along with authorities from Panama, as two 40-foot twin-engine vessels tried to evade authorities in the waters of the Western Caribbean, resulting in the drugs being subsequently jettisoned into the sea.

The Navy-Coast Guard response team recovered 89 bales of cocaine, weighing 4,840 pounds, with an estimated value of more than $362 million.

“I am very proud of the teamwork and collaborative effort between the ship, our air detachment and our USCG Law Enforcement Detachment,” said Cmdr. Jack Killman, Elrod’s commanding officer. “Our mission is clear; to disrupt illicit trafficking that jeopardizes the safety in the region and ultimately our own national security.”

This seizure is in addition to the 1,000 lbs. recovered by Elrod March 22.

Operation Martillo (Spanish for ‘hammer’) is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a component of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). Operation Martillo is a component of the U.S. government’s coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations. It does so by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Naval Today Staff , April 30, 2012; Image: navy