A U.S. Coast Guard cutter ship intercepted a self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel that was smuggling more than 3,800 pounds of cocaine off the coast of Texas last month.
On Nov. 12, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Marine Operations (AMO) tracked the vessel through international waters before arresting the drug smuggling crew, according to a CBP statement.
All three were arrested and the cocaine was seized. The suspects will face charges in the United States.
The vessel is designed to navigate lower in the water in order to avoid detection from the surface.
“The drug cartels are relentless and extremely innovative,” said National Air Security Operations Center–Corpus Christi Director Allen Durham in the statement, noting the difficulty of detecting the vessels.
During operations, a P-3 Long Range Tracker aircraft was used to track the vessel.
“Interdicting self-propelled semi-submersible vessels requires expertise and the right aircraft. Air and Marine Operations will continue to beat the cartels at their own game to protect our borders,” he added.
According to the CBP, the operation took multiple days and involved several interagency partners including the U.S. Navy.
In 2016, Marine operations seized a total of 200,000 lbs of cocaine, 650,000 lbs of marijuana, and 3,800 lbs of meth.
As of writing on Dec. 11, there were no further details on the identities of the three suspects or where they were from.
Marine operations have aircraft that monitor areas in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, according to the CBP statement. They patrol the borders in drug transit Zones in Central and South America. The P-3 aircrews can detect, monitor, and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach the shore.
A similar drug smuggling bust took place in 2012 when the U.S Coast Guard seized around 3,800 pounds of cocaine, according to CBS Miami.
At the time, Coast Gaurd Commander John Detleff, said the wholesale value of the drugs was worth approximately $48 million.
The department had to open fire at the smuggling vessel from a helicopter because it failed to obey orders.
“They didn’t stop,” Dwetleff told CBS. “They started jettisoning contraband overboard and then we proceeded to disabling fire where we actually had the marksman fire 50 caliber rounds into the engine of the outboard. That stopped the vessel.”
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