US Coast Guard cutter Campbell seizes US$215 million in drugs during 63-day patrol

USCGC Campbell (Photo: US Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Noel)

The crew of the US Coast Guard medium endurance cutter Campbell returned to Kittery, Maine, earlier this week following a 63-day counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Campbell‘s successful law enforcement operations interdicted or disrupted over 5,200 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated US$215 million and apprehended six suspected international narcotics smugglers.

In transit south to the Panama Canal, Campbell embarked an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) based in Jacksonville, Florida.

During one interdiction, a bridge lookout, using night vision detection, sighted an unlit low profile vessel (LPV) transiting near the cutter at night. Upon detection, Campbell launched an over the horizon pursuit boat to intercept the LPV with an embarked law enforcement boarding team.

Campbell‘s boarding team assumed positive control of the vessel, took aboard three suspected smugglers, and disrupted the delivery of nearly 2,000 kilograms of cocaine. The night-time case occurred solely due to the alertness of the bridge lookout.

During another seizure, Campbell vectored toward a second LPV whose crew jettisoned its contraband after being detected by aerial surveillance.

The cutter redeployed the Dolphin helicopter team, who stopped the LPV with disabling fire directed into the four outboard engines.

Campbell‘s crew was able to locate and recover the discarded packages, yielding an at-sea weight of approximately 2,000 kilograms, and tested positive for cocaine.

Campbell‘s final case was also detected by aerial surveillance. The cutter again launched the Dolphin helicopter and OTH cutter boat to pursue a small panga-style “go-fast” vessel traveling at 30 knots with no navigation lights and with fuel barrels and cargo on deck in a known drug trafficking corridor. The Dolphin crew fired warning shots, bringing the vessel to a stop.

Campbell retrieved over 1,200 kilograms of cocaine scrapped before the vessel boarding.

Throughout the deployment, Campbell worked closely with US Coast Guard and Navy assets on missions in support of Coast Guard 11th District and Joint Interagency Task Force South.

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