Operation Martillo: U.S. Coast Guard Offloads Seized Cocaine
By Dialogo March 19, 2012
MIAMI – U.S. Coast Guard members recently offloaded 3,500 pounds of cocaine worth US$43.2 million at Base Miami Beach, Fla., after seizing the narcotics off a vessel in the Caribbean Sea earlier this month.
The cocaine, which had been stashed in 54 bales aboard a 35-foot go-fast vessel, was confiscated by the crew of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Northland on March 3, said Cmdr. Dale V. Shepardson, Northland’s commanding officer.
The seizure began when Northland’s embedded chopper crew spotted the vessel from the air and told it to stop. But the boat’s crew refused, prompting the airborne marksmen to shoot the boat’s engines, Shepardson told reporters at the base where the cocaine was offloaded March 16.
Northland crewmembers boarded the vessel, confiscated the cocaine and detained four men, later placing them in the custody of the U.S. Department of Justice, Shepardson said.
“[The seizure] took a lot of pain and misery off the street,” Shepardson added.
The seizure was part of Operation Martillo, an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from Western Hemisphere and European partner nations to stop illicit trafficking on both Central American coasts.
The operation intends to disrupt organized crime operations by limiting their ability to use Central America as a transit zone.
Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in the operation, which started mid-January.