USS Rentz Seizes Ton of Cocaine Worth USD 78 Million
Less than a week on station in the 4th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) the frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46) and embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) seized 2,123 lbs. of cocaine from a fishing vessel north of the Galapagos Islands last week.
The seizure is worth an estimated street value of $78 million.
Rentz is currently conducting counter transnational organized crime (C-TOC) operations as part of Operation Martillo which began in Jan. 2012.
Operation Martillo (Spanish for ‘hammer’) targets illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus, and is an international, interagency operation led by Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a component of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).
Rentz worked closely with a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion long-range patrol aircraft operating in the region to initially detect and intercept the fishing vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics in international waters.
The Coast Guard LEDET aboard the frigate discovered and confiscated the large cache of cocaine shortly after boarding the suspect vessel.
“We are very fortunate to have the USS Rentz and embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment on patrol conducting counter transnational organized crime operations. This major seizure in the first week the ship is on station is a clear indicator that illicit activities are taking place and must be addressed to counter their destabilizing affects in the region and in our nation,” Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris said.
“Congratulations to the crew and embarked personnel aboard Rentz, good job”
A location and date to offload the narcotics has not been yet determined.
Since Operation Martillo started, 318,133 lbs of cocaine, 25,052 lbs of marijuana worth an estimated $40 billion have been confiscated.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations 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.
Press Release, August 19, 2013; Image: US Navy