The US Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) crew offloaded approximately 12,100 pounds of cocaine and approximately 5,759 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $216 million, Thursday, in Port Everglades.
The drugs were interdicted in 12 separate law enforcement cases by two Coast Guard vessels, three U.S. Navy vessels and two British Royal navy vessels in both the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea during a two week period spanning Aug. 27 – Sept. 8.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane (WMEC-903) carried out three interdictions in the Eastern Pacific, seizing approximately 3,882 pounds of cocaine and approximately 2,527 pounds of marijuana.
- The USS Pinckney (DDG-91) with an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) carried out two interdictions and a bale field recovery in the Eastern Pacific, seizing approximately 5,842 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba (WMEC-907) carried out one interdiction in the Eastern Pacific, seizing approximately 3,220 pounds of marijuana and approximately 11 pounds of cocaine.
- The British naval vessel HMS Medway (P223) with an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) carried out two interdictions in the Caribbean Sea, seizing approximately 1,433 pounds of cocaine.
- The British naval vessel RFA Argus (A135) with an embarked Coast Guard LEDET carried out one interdiction in the Caribbean Sea, seizing approximately 789 pounds of cocaine.
- The USS Kidd (DDG-100) with an embarked Coast Guard LEDET recovered approximately 145 pounds of cocaine while operating in the Caribbean Sea.
- The USS Zephyr (PC-8) with an embarked Coast Guard LEDET recovered approximately 12 pounds of marijuana while operating in the Caribbean Sea.
The Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy assigns three specific priorities of combatting networks, securing borders and safeguarding commerce. To achieve success in these priorities, the Coast Guard continuously strives for close coordination between partnering naval assets as well as its own. Effective communication, persistence and teamwork are among many characteristics that contribute to mission success. The diversity of the assets that contributed to these interdictions demonstrates the effectiveness of the high level of cooperation between the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, and British Royal Navy. The Coast Guard remains committed to the enhancement of counter-narcotic operations throughout the maritime domain to diminish transnational threats and maximize our country’s security.
“This large amount of drugs was seized in just a short 13-day span, shows just how serious the issue is,” said Capt. Dorothy Hernaez, commanding officer of the Cutter Harriet Lane. “I am very proud of the efforts by not only the Harriet Lane crew, but also all the other Coast Guard, Navy, and British Royal navy assets involved in the interdictions. These crews overcame significant challenges related to COVID-19 to remain both operational and effective, in order to keep these drugs off our streets.”
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions for these 12 interdictions by Attorney’s Offices from the District of Puerto Rico, the Middle District of Florida and the Southern District of Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California, and the law enforcement phase of operations in the Caribbean Sea is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 7th District, headquartered in Miami. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the Coast Guard.
The Harriet Lane is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The Escanaba is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Boston, Massachusetts. The USS Pinckney is a 510-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer homeported in Naval Base San Diego. The USS Zephyr is a 179-foot Cyclone-class patrol ship homeported in Mayport, Florida. The USS Kidd is a 510-foot Arleigh Burke-class destroyer homeported in Naval Base Everett. The HMS Medway is a 297-foot River-class patrol vessel homeported in Portsmouth, England. The Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Teams (LEDETs) deployed from Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, based in San Diego, California, and the Tactical Law Enforcement Team South, based in Miami.