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News | May 10, 2021

Two for Two: USS Sioux City Conducts Back-to-Back Drug Busts

By U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

CARIBBEAN SEA - The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 109 seized over $24 million in suspected cocaine, April 26-28, 2021.

On April 26, while on routine patrol, a go-fast vessel (GFV) was spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and Sioux City was vectored in for an intercept. Sioux City deployed her helicopter, assigned to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 3 and her small boat.  Once on scene, the GFV was observed jettisoning packages over the side.  The vessel was searched, all packages were recovered, and two suspected drug traffickers were detained.

The following day, a second GFV was spotted and Sioux City was vectored in for another intercept. Sioux City’s embarked helicopter established positive control over the vessel as packages were jettisoned over the side.  Three additional suspected drug traffickers were detained.

Sioux City and the embarked LEDET recovered an estimated 582 kilograms of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $24 million dollars.

“I’m very proud of the efforts put forth by our Sioux City crew and embarked U.S. Coast Guard team.” said Cmdr. Wade Smith, Sioux City’s commanding officer. “Counter-narcotics evolutions are long, precise, and require extensive coordination across the board. Conducting back-to-back drug busts, and doing so safely and professionally demonstrates the resilience and commitment of our team to this crucial mission here in U.S. 4th Fleet.”

Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions 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 and @NAVSOUS4THFLT