Coast Guard cutters like the 378-foot Douglas Munro are proving a game change for maritime interdiction capability, as evidenced by the more than 19,600 pounds of illegal drugs unloaded by the ship’s crew on March 23 at Coast Guard Base Alameda in California.
Prior to arriving at Alameda, the crew transferred 12 detainees, about 9,200 pounds of cocaine and 2,150 pounds of marijuana to law enforcement officials in San Diego, the Coast Guard said.
The drugs have an estimated worth is $330 million. They were seized in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between January and March, in 15 suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by Coast Guard and Navy vessels, including the cutters Munro, Bear and Viglant.
“Transnational criminal organizations have not slowed down due to the pandemic, and the Coast Guard women and men continue to protect our nation on the frontlines,” said Capt. Blake Novak, commanding officer of the Munro. “Our crew intercepted a group of suspected smugglers, on average, every 90 hours for 45 days straight, seizing nearly 30,000 pounds of cocaine and marijuana valued at over $330 million. Maintaining such a high level of performance was only possible because of a total team effort,” Novak said.
The U.S. Southern Command opted on April 1, 2020 to boost counter-narcotics operations in the western hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs. Collaborators included the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies.