Royal Navy, U.S. Coast Guard Interdict 1.4 Tonnes of Cocaine

The crew of the cutter Bear offloads cocaine in San Juan, Feb. 4 (USCG)

Published Feb 5, 2020 12:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

In late January, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Royal Navy and partners in U.S. law enforcement seized a combined 1,400 kilos of cocaine and detained nine suspected smugglers in two separate interdictions in the Caribbean Sea. The seized drug shipments are estimated to have a wholesale value of more than $46.2 million.

“These interdictions highlight the importance of working with our international partners as we combat drug trafficking,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.  “These large drug seizures make our community safer by keeping the narcotics out of our neighborhoods. We commend all of our partner agencies for their steadfast efforts.”

On January 24, the Royal Navy amphib RFA Mounts Bay encountered two suspicious go-fast vessels about 75 nautical miles south of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

RFA Mounts Bay was on patrol with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) armed helicopter onboard. She launched the HITRON helicopter and the ship’s pursuit vessel with the Coast Guard LEDET to interdict both suspect vessels. 

The Coast Guard LEDET boarding team, with the assistance of RFA Mounts Bay crewmembers, boarded both vessels, apprehending seven men and seizing 42 bales of suspected contraband.  

On January 30, a marine patrol aircraft detected a northbound go-fast boat southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bear responded to interdict the target. The Bear’s over-the-horizon cutter boat and embarked helicopter intercepted and stopped the go-fast. Bear’s boarding team found 13 bales of suspected contraband on board and detained the two men aboard the go-fast.

The cutter Bear delivered the seized contraband and detainees from both cases to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-HSI, and DEA special agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Tuesday. 

Between October 2019 and December 2019, the Coast Guard and Caribbean Border Interagency Group authorities have seized 12,060 kilograms of cocaine and 407 pounds of Marijuana during law enforcement operations surrounding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The wholesale value for these seizures is worth more than $314 million.