U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps Seize Three Tonnes of Cocaine

Seized cocaine hoisted aboard the ESB USS Herschel "Woody" Williams (USN)

Published Apr 15, 2022 7:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

Earlier this month, a joint U.S. Navy / Marine Corps / Coast Guard team captured 6,000 kilos of cocaine off the coast of Cabo Verde, 400 nm west of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. 

A "tri-maritime" team of sailors, coastguardsmen and marines aboard USS Hershel “Woody” Williams helped local authorities interdict a suspect vessel on April 1. As part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP), the team conducted a boarding of a Brazilian-flagged fishing vessel in international waters.

Acting under the jurisdiction of Cabo Verde, U.S. and local law enforcement agents searched the vessel and seized three tonnes of cocaine with an estimated street value of about $350 million. Seven suspects were taken into custody by Cabo Verde law enforcement.

Images courtesy USN

“West African nations face serious challenges at sea, including illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, as well as narcotics trafficking,” said Rear Adm. Anthony Carullo, director of operations, U.S. Naval Forces Africa. “Illicit activity in the maritime undermines the economic development of the entire African continent. This successful interdiction sends a clear message that the countries of West Africa are poised to enhance their national and regional prosperity by intercepting and prosecuting illegal activity.”

The expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to U.S. Africa Command. The ESB class is based on a civilian tanker design, and its open decks make it a flexible platform for small-boat and rotary-wing operations.