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USS Carr Recovers $26 Million of Cocaine During Operation Martillo

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Guided-missile frigate USS Carr (FFG 52) recovered approximately 324 kilograms of cocaine Oct. 11 with an estimated street value of $26 million while supporting Operation Martillo and U.S. 4th Fleet.

While conducting Counter Transnational Organized Crime (C-TOC) patrols Oct. 10, USS Carr coordinated with a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft to find and intercept a small vessel, referred to as a "go-fast", that was suspected of smuggling narcotics in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. During the pursuit the go-fast jettisoned suspicious cargo over the side and eventually escaped. Carr then commenced a search to find the jettisoned materials. On the morning of Oct. 11, Carr located the suspicious items and launched a small boat to recover them.

Once the retrieved cargo was aboard Carr an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment
(LEDET) discovered a suspicious substance. Further testing revealed that it was cocaine.

"It was a great job by everyone involved to stay focused and get the mission accomplished over the eighteen hours that elapsed from initial detection until finally discovering the cocaine," stated Carr's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Patrick Kulakowski.

Carr is homeported in Norfolk, Va., and is currently deployed in support of Operation Martillo, under operational control to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and C4F (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) while conducting CTOC operations in support of Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATF-S), U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), and the Eleventh Coast Guard District.

Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by JIATF-S headquartered in Key West, Fla. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occur under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.

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. U.S. military participation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a component of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). 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 Ens. Joshua J. Stewart, USS Carr Public Affairs