Operation Martillo: US$10 million worth of marijuana seized

By Dialogo
September 20, 2013

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Great Britain’s Royal Navy seized an estimated US$10 million worth of marijuana from the high seas of the Caribbean on Sept. 12, marking another interdiction as part of the regional, U.S.-led counter-narcotics mission Operation Martillo.
The seizure of 1,276 kilograms of marijuana came after a Royal Navy ship, carrying a U.S. law enforcement detachment, spotted a small fishing vessel in the central Caribbean, near Jamaica. As the Royal Navy Wave Knight ship approached the vessel, suspected drug traffickers began throwing bales overboard.
In a prepared statement, the Royal Navy said narco-traffickers weighted the bales in an attempt to sink them. Authorities recovered 55 bales before they sank.
Seven suspected drug traffickers were detained in the operation and their names weren’t disclosed. The fishing vessel was turned over to Jamaican authorities, according to the Royal Navy.
For the Wave Knight, a fleet tanker deployed in the Caribbean along with another Royal Navy ship, the HMS Lancaster, the seizure added to the one metric ton of narcotics it already has confiscated.
British officials highlighted the seizure as part of its efforts to cut drug trafficking in the Caribbean, a corridor that is increasingly being used to send drugs to Europe.
“This drugs bust follows recent successful interdiction and deterrence operations by the HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll in the Caribbean, which all contribute to ensuring illegal drugs do not reach our streets,” British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said in a prepared statement. “The work of the Royal Navy across the globe and in particular in the Caribbean on counter-narcotics operations is vital to protecting us here at home.”
The Sept. 12 seizure was also another success for Operation Martillo, which strives to cut trafficking of illicit drugs to Central America through the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. The initiative, led by the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South, includes Canada, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.
Since being launched in January 2012 through the first half of 2013, the operation has seized 207,740 kilograms of cocaine and 37,937 kilograms of marijuana, and arrested 472 suspects.
“Once again the joint multi-agency approach to counter narcotic operations has resulted in another successful takedown,” Capt. Chris Clarke, the commanding officer of the Wave Knight, said.
Last month, the British Royal Navy captured 680 kilograms of pure cocaine from a go-fast boat in the Caribbean after U.S. officials spotted the suspicious vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico.
In that bust, officials seized 22 bales of cocaine – with a street value of about US$156 million – and detained the vessel’s three-member crew.
[Infosurhoy.com (Dominican Republic), 19/09/2013; Royal Navy (Great Britain), 12/09/2013]