An estimated half a billion dollars worth of cocaine bound for the United States was recently intercepted in the eastern Pacific Ocean and seized before ever hitting our borders. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard-based crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Campbell had a hand in the successful mission.
“These drugs are destined for the streets in America, from the border all the way up here into Maine,” explained U.S Coast Guard Commander Mark McDonnell.
He and his crew of 100 launched April 15 to join seven other cutters on a counter drug patrol off the coast of Central and South America.
“We stop them down as far away from the border as possible,” explained McDonnell.
The Campbell’s crew identified targets and successfully disrupted three smuggling ventures.
“We must assume they are dangerous, when we approach they won’t have any lights on dark at high speeds,” said McDonnell.
His cutter alone seized more than 5,000 pounds of cocaine with a street value of more than $68 million.
“The crew is so impressive with the way they’ve carried out the mission safely, maintaining a nearly 30-year-old ship, didn’t miss an operational day,” McDonnell said.
While the crew considers this mission accomplished, they say their work is never done.
“The transnational organized crime networks are vying for control of these smuggling routes and that’s increased violence in Central America,” said McDonnell. “To be a part of stopping that violence and securing our own borders is very special for us.”
During the deployment, Campbell’s crew traveled almost 13,000 nautical miles and even crossed the equator - it’s a special maritime tradition that not every coast guard member will achieve.