Panamanian, U.S. authorities seize cocaine worth US$362 million
By Dialogo April 26, 2012
MIAMI — United States Customs and Border Protection announced on April 24 the capture of two high-speed boats in the Caribbean loaded with more than 4,840 pounds (2,200) kilograms) of cocaine worth more than US$362 million.
A Florida-based P-3 reconnaissance plane detected the two vessels on April 20 some 120 miles (193 kilometers) off the east coast of Panama and notified local authorities, who chased the two boats.
“One vessel abandoned the contraband before arriving on shore, while the second go-fast [vessel] was seized nearby,” the border patrol said. “A U.S. Navy vessel operating in the area retrieved 89 bales of cocaine from the scene.”
The border patrol said the Florida-based reconnaissance planes — originally designed to hunt submarines — had helped authorities seize some $2.8 billion worth of cocaine since October 2011.
The long-range aircraft monitor a 42-million-square-mile (109-million-square-kilometer) area in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific in search of drug smugglers.
“By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the continental U.S., the P-3s detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore,” the customs service said.
[AFP, 25/04/2012; Cbp.gov, 24/04/2012]