Drug interdiction is one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s core missions, and working with partner agencies and allied countries provides a major assist to the service in battling a trade
that seems to never ease up.
The drug trade is prevalent throughout the service’s
vast area of responsibility, but is primarily focused in
the Caribbean. Those waters are patrolled by the
Seventh District, headquartered in Miami, which
includes Coast Guard Sector San Juan.
Coast Guard Commandant ADM Robert J. Papp Jr.
talked about the importance of interagency partnerships for drug interdiction during a Feb. 4 hearing
before the House Homeland Security border and maritime security subcommittee.
“The Coast Guard fosters strategic relationships with
partner nations to detect, deter and counter threats as
early and as far from U.S. shores as possible,” he said.
Some operating areas are enormous — with the
Seventh District having 1. 8 million nautical miles to
cover — and Papp said that through the establishment
of bilateral agreements, the Coast Guard facilitates
coordination of operations and the forward deployment
of boats, cutters, aircraft and per-
sonnel to deter and counter threats
as close to their origin as possible.
“By extending our law enforcement capabilities into the territorial
seas of other countries, the Coast
Guard is at the forefront in assisting
partner nations’ efforts to reduce
the production and transportation
of illicit drugs within their sovereign boundaries,” he said.
The service has captured nearly
30,000 pounds of marijuana and
On Jan. 27, following an at-sea interdiction approximately 60 nautical miles off the northwest coast of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, a shipment consisting of nine bales of
cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately
$3.5 million was seized in a joint effort by the U.S. Coast
Guard, Customs Border Protection and Drug Enforcement
Administration, and the Dominican Republic Navy, in
support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Carib-
bean Guard and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force.
The other seizure occurred Jan. 22 after a Coast Guard
HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a 25-foot go-fast
boat with four individuals and suspicious packages
aboard moving at a high rate of speed during a multina-
tional counterdrug operation south of the Dominican
Republic. The service launched a helicopter from the
British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Naval Support Ship
Wave Knight to intercept the suspected smugglers.
The RFA Wave Knight, with a U.S. Coast Guard Law
Enforcement Detachment Team aboard, arrived on
scene and detained the suspected smugglers and recovered 45 bales of cocaine from the water. The drugs
have an estimated wholesale value of $37 million.
Drug Trade Defense
Coast Guard works with other agencies,
allied nations to stem traffic in the Caribbean
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Associate Editor
Drug interdiction is a daily challenge for the U.S. Coast Guard. With
a vast area of responsibility and an adversary with deep pockets,
the service relies on help from other agencies and partner nations
to stop traffickers before they reach U.S. shores.
■ Drug interdiction is one of the Coast Guard’s core missions.
■ The service has a robust working relationship with Joint Interagency Task Force South, a subordinate command of U.S. Southern Command.
■ The Coast Guard’s Operation Unified Resolve has been a successful multi-agency operation in the Caribbean and surrounding areas.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 40 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014