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COAST GUARD CAPER

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The United States Coast Guard says that its crews have been “hard at work” disrupting a “rising threat” as drug smugglers use “increasingly sophisticated and evolving methods” to evade authorities in the Caribbean Sea.

“First, there was the US$180 million cocaine seizure by Coast Guard Cutter Seneca. Then there was Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk and their 24-hour pursuit, followed by a double-bust resulting in a total cocaine seizure of seven tons,” said the Coast Guard in a statement issued in Miami.

“And we can’t forget the latest interdiction from Coast Guard Cutters Decisive and Pea Island,” it added.

“While these cases involved different crews and different circumstances, they all had one thing in common – drug subs,” it continued.

The Coast Guard said the typical self-propelled, semi-submersible – commonly referred to as a drug sub – can travel up to 5,000 miles, bringing illicit cargo, whether narcotics, goods or people, to the shores of the United States.

“With every drug sub interdiction, we have shared with Compass readers the stories of the men and women who made the missions a success,” the statement said.

“But, in each of these stories, one vital asset is mentioned far too briefly – air support,” it added, stating that aircrews are a “fundamental part of the drug interdiction mission.”

“Perhaps no crew better exemplifies just how key air support is than the crew of the Aviation Training Center Mobile airplane involved in the latest drug sub interdicti­on,” the Coast Guard said.

It said this aircrew was responsible for the first interdiction of a self-propelled, semi-submersible by an HC-144 in the Western Caribbean Sea, on the first day downrange on their first deployment with Joint Interagency Task Force South based in Miami.

The U.S. Coast Guard said its aircrafts have surface search radar, a day/night camera and a mission system pallet that connects to the rest of the Coast Guard in tracking drug smugglers in the Caribbean Sea.

“Our mission system operators are trained to use this equipment to search for objects of interest well beyond what a person aboard the aircraft can see with their eyes,” said Lt. Justin Hunt, commander of the Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center Mobile airplane.

“As the first HC-144 crew to deploy in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South, we had the opportunity to establish new relationships with both the Colombian navy and coast guard and the Colombian air force,” he added.

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