More than 4,735 pounds of cocaine was intercepted in the Caribbean Sea over a three-day period in December as part of Operation Full Court Press, which is being led by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO).
Operation Full Court Press is an interagency effort to crack down on cocaine smuggling from the Caribbean to the United States. The operation resulted in cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $61.7 million being intercepted in three separate incidents from Dec. 18-21.
AMO crew aboard a DHC-8 maritime patrol aircraft spotted suspicious vessels in international waters in all three incidents. The Dominican Navy intercepted the vessels on Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, recovering 770 pounds and 1,760 pounds of cocaine, respectively. Authorities also discovered 2,205 pounds of cocaine aboard a suspicious vessel after a brief pursuit on Dec. 20.
“Air and Marine Operations Southeast Region area of responsibility extends eastward from southeast Texas to the U.S. Virgin Islands which includes the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and a large portion of the Caribbean Sea,” Eric Rembold, the executive director of the Southeast Region, said. “It is, therefore, necessary to closely coordinate law enforcement operations with our interagency and international partners to extend the nation’s borders further away from the geographic border in order to dramatically increase our detection capabilities and the apprehension of illicit smuggling ventures prior to making landfall.”
Rembold added that the success of Operation Full Court Press has proven that the strategy “pays great dividends” in allowing America to confront drug trafficking rings on their own turf.
“Air and Marine Operations in Florida and the Caribbean continues to leverage interagency partnerships to disrupt transnational organized crime and drug trafficking,” Martin Wade, the director of the Miami Air and Marine Branch, said. “The mission is to serve and protect the American people and we’ll continue to apply advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities preserving America’s security interests.”
AMO contributed to the seizure of approximately 269,790 pounds of cocaine, 384,230 pounds of marijuana, 5,721 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,089 weapons and $26.1 million in cash in fiscal year 2017. Those actions resulted in 2,573 arrests and 37,009 illegal aliens being apprehended, CBP reports.