US Coast Guard, Costa Rican Authorities Seize 771 kg of Cocaine

US Coast Guard, Costa Rican Authorities Seize 771 kg of Cocaine

By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo
April 30, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard and Costa Rican authorities seized approximately 771 kilograms of cocaine on April 9 with an estimated value of more than $29 million, from a fishing boat in international waters of the Pacific Ocean off Central America, according to the U.S. Coast Guard 11th District Pacific Southwest.

Several bales of cocaine are shown aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC-913) following an interdiction from the fishing boat Amanda M, April 9, 2020. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

“This interdiction is a great example of what we can accomplish with strong international partners,” said Rear Admiral Peter Gautier, 11th Coast Guard District commander. “Our Coast Guard crews performed an exhaustive boarding and search of [Costa Rican flagged-ship] Amanda M, recovering $29 million worth of cocaine. Our Costa Rican partners played a major role in the success of this operation, which will disrupt criminal networks in the region during this major surge.”

Hidden cocaine

While on patrol, a Coast Guard cutter’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew identified a fishing boat suspected of smuggling narcotics in early April and requested the assistance of a Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service maritime patrol aircraft. The fishing boat with four suspected smugglers had several false compartments throughout the vessel where the cocaine was hidden, the Coast Guard said.

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) began enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in accordance with national security objectives. Numerous U.S. agencies, from the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, cooperate in the effort to combat transnational organized crime.

“The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. attorneys in districts across the nation,” said SOUTHCOM’s Public Affairs Office in a press release. “The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.”