USS Elrod, At Sea (May 17, 2012) Sailors aboard a rigid-hull inflatable boat prepare bales of cocaine for hoisting after a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment seized the contraband during an interdiction in the Caribbean Sea.
USS ELROD, At Sea (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team recovered 57 bales of cocaine in support of Operation Martillo
in the western Caribbean Sea May 17.
An SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 60 Det. 3 embarked aboard Elrod detected a "go-fast" vessel operating in the Caribbean Sea.
The drug traffickers began to jettison the contraband, but the helicopter marked the debris field, while a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) from Elrod came alongside, with the USCG LEDET team, and seized the go-fast.
The U.S. Navy-Coast Guard response team recovered 57 bales of cocaine, weighing 1,720 kilograms (3,790 pounds), worth an estimated street value of more than $283 million. The drugs were transferred to USCG Cutter Resolute.
"This latest interdiction of 57 bales, on top of the 89 bales of cocaine recovered a few weeks ago, is attributed to the superb collaboration of our USCG Law Enforcement Detachments, our helicopter air detachment, and the crew members of Elrod," said Cmdr. Jack Killman, Elrod's commanding officer.
In addition to recovery of the cocaine, the LEDET detained five individuals who were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were later transferred to Tampa Bay, Fla., where they were charged under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act May 29.
Conviction under this Act carries a minimum mandatory 10-year sentence and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The contraband transferred to Resolute was offloaded at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., May 31.
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, under the direction of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). Operation Martillo is part 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.