The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team recovered more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana, May 2.
While on routine patrol, approximately 15 miles northeast of Navassa Island, an uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea between Haiti and Jamaica administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, an embarked MH-60R Sea Hawk assigned to the “Proud Warriors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72, Combat Element (CEL) 2 located a 35-foot go-fast vessel with three suspected drug smugglers aboard throwing packages overboard.
In a coordinated effort, the small boat crew from Lassen along with the LEDET were launched to the scene to further investigate and recovered a total of 65 packages of marijuana, totaling more than 3,500 pounds.
“This is an excellent example of the teamwork aboard Lassen,” said U.S. Navy Commander Judson Mallory, USS Lassen commanding officer. “Our ships and aircraft have unique capabilities and our teams worked well together to conduct this operation safely and successfully.”
USS Lassen is deployed to the U.S. Fourth Fleet area of operations supporting U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s enhanced counter drug operations mission in the Caribbean.
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counternarcotics 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 Caribbean Sea 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. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Caribbean Sea is conducted under the authority of the 7th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central, and South American region.