USCG cutter home after seizing $61 million worth of drugs

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) cutter Seneca returned on September 25 to her homeport of Boston following a 50-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Seneca crewmembers and a tactical law enforcement detachment team conducted multiple interdictions while patrolling international waters off the coast of Central America and South America in support of the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South).

As informed, the interdictions resulted in more than 1,840 kilograms of cocaine and 35 pounds of marijuana seized with an estimated value of $61 million street value.

Throughout the patrol, Seneca intercepted four vessels suspected of smuggling illegal contraband; two of the vessels interdicted by Seneca were low-profile go-fast vessels.

Seneca also intercepted a fishing vessel suspected of international drug trafficking — after several hours of searching, the boarding team discovered a hidden compartment containing approximately 500 kilograms of cocaine valued at $16.5 million.

The efforts by the crew during the counterdrug patrol will aid federal investigators within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security as they continue their work dismantling transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) pervasive in Central America, Mexico and South America.

“In just one interdiction we seized over 50 times the amount of contraband seized along the southwest border in a given month, significantly impacting the economic engine of these transnational criminal organizations. Yet, we need more resources. The 220 metric tons of cocaine the Coast Guard seizes at sea per year represents only a small fraction of the total exports via maritime means,” Cmdr. John Christensen, Seneca’s commanding officer, said.

As a part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy, the USCG has increased its presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Basin. Joint Interagency Task Force-South works with the coast guard by detecting and monitoring suspicious vessels until the USCG can arrive on scene.

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