CARIBBEAN SEA -- The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 402 seized 400 kilograms of suspected cocaine, March 13.
While on routine patrol, the go fast vessel (GFV) was spotted by a Dominican Republican maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and Wichita was vectored in for a long-range intercept. Upon interception, Wichita deployed one of her helicopters, assigned to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, detachment 8, who observed the vessel jettisoning packages over the side. They continued to provide over watch and ensure compliance while the embarked LEDET on Wichita and small boats arrived to achieve positive control of the GFV. The vessel was searched and three suspected drug traffickers were detained.
Wichita and the embarked LEDET recovered an estimated 400 kilograms of suspected cocaine worth over an estimated wholesale value of $17 million.
“This was an excellent example of the effects we can achieve when we integrate with our regional partners towards a common goal.” said Cmdr. Daniel Reiher, USS Wichita Commanding Officer. “A true team effort, operations like this succeed only when everyone onboard contributes 100%.”
USS Wichita is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support enhanced counter drug operations, in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
On April 1, 2020, U.S. Southern Command began what was then known as Enhanced Counter Narcotics (CN) Operations in the Western Hemisphere to increase the disruption of drugs. This counter Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO)/CN operational approach, which has become enduring, supports our objectives to degrade the capabilities of TCOs and save lives. With our increased presence, we have bolstered support to U.S. and partner nation law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand target packages. Since then, our key partners have been involved in over 60% of drug disruptions since April 2020 (up from 50% in 2019). By strengthening partnerships, we counter threats together.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.
Learn more about USNAVSO/4th Fleet at https://www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT and @NAVSOUS4THFLT