Charleston-based Coast Guard ship aids in seizure of $377 million worth of drugs

Charleston-based Coast Guard ship aids in seizure of $377 million worth of drugs
The Coast Guard Cutter James conducts Hurricane Dorian relief operations alongside the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark in the Caribbean Sea, Sept. 6, 2019. During their 62-day counter-drug patrol, the James’ crew, along with members from Tactical Law Enforcement Team-South, Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, Cryptologic Direct Support Element and multiple partner agencies, contributed to the interdiction of 7 drug-smuggling vessels and were responsible for the seizure of more than 12,677 pounds of cocaine and 4,085 pounds of marijuana bound for the United States. (Source: U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter James)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston-based Coast Guard ship aided in the seizure of more than $377 million dollars worth of drugs.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter James returned to Charleston on Thursday following a 62-day counter-drug patrol in support of Operation Martillo in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Coast Guard officials say that during their patrol, the James’ crew, along with other units and agencies contributed to the interdiction of seven drug-smuggling vessels and were responsible for the seizure of more than 9,000 pounds of cocaine and 4,085 pounds of marijuana bound for the United States.

A report states that the James’ crew offloaded more than 28,000 pounds of seized cocaine and 11,000 pounds of seized marijuana, Monday at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

According to the Coast Guard, the contraband was seized by multiple Coast Guard units in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin and has a wholesale value of more than $377.1 million.

“The teamwork, dedication, and bias for action exhibited by this crew and other Coast Guard vessel crews represent how the Coast Guard protects this nation from threats delivered by sea and I could not be more proud of them,” said Capt. Jeffrey Randall, Cutter James commanding officer. “They are the very best of what America stands for, and it is truly a privilege to have the opportunity to lead them as they continue the Coast Guard Cutter James’ growing legacy of brave and faithful service, while remaining ready, relevant and responsive to our nation, the Department of Homeland Security, and our Coast Guard."

The Coast Guard released the following additional information on the operation.

In addition to interdicting drug-smuggling vessels, the cutter James assumed the role of Commander, Task Force Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the strongest category five hurricane to make landfall in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The James directed 8 cutters and 12 helicopters in response to search and rescue and medevac calls by injured and stranded inhabitants and coordinated evaluations of 25 ports and their associated infrastructure.

The Coast Guard Cutter James is one of two 418-foot National Security Cutters (NSC) homeported in Charleston. With its robust command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, the NSC is the most technologically advanced ship in the Coast Guard’s fleet. NSCs are equipped with state-of-the-art small assets to include a small unmanned aircraft system which can expand the surveillance range of a surface asset like the James.

“From mission planning to risk mitigation, the capability offered by a small shipboard based unmanned aerial system extends our visual range to enhance our ability to execute a diverse mission set,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Connell, Coast Guard Cutter James, operations officer.

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