Elrod, Coast Guard Disrupt Drug Flow in the Caribbean
Guided-missile frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team recovered 91 packages of marijuana, weighing approximately 4,938 pounds, during an interdiction in support of Operation Martillo, July 3.
The estimated wholesale value of the recovered drugs is more than $2 million.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection P-3 initially detected the "go-fast" vessel. The drug traffickers then began to jettison the contraband as the P-3 turned over tracking of the vessel to Elrod while USCG District 7 assumed control of the interdiction effort.
An embarked SH-60 helicopter was launched with an airborne use of force (AUF) gunner on board to intercept the vessel and locate the debris field. In an attempt to get the vessel to stop, the gunner fired warning shots aft of the speedboat. When the vessel did not stop, the gunner fired disabling rounds, bringing the go-fast to a stop.
In a coordinated effort, crews from Elrod and USCG LEDET recovered 91 packages of various sizes from the debris field, and through two narcotics identification kit tests, it was determined that the contraband was marijuana.
Since the beginning of their deployment in January, Elrod and the embarked LEDET have seized approximately 9,630 pounds of cocaine and 4,938 pounds of marijuana, with a total wholesale value of more than $120 million.
Operation Martillo (Spanish for 'hammer') is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. This joint service, interagency, and multinational operation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a National Task Force charged with detection, monitoring, and supporting the interdiction of illicit trafficking in a 42 million square mile area primarily in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of operations. Operation Martillo is a component of the U.S. government's coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
Article by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs