Air and Maritime Operations, U.S. Coast Guard, Joint Interagency Task Force – South and international partners seize 1.3 tons of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific


WASHINGTON DC – A National Aviation Security Operations (AMO) Air and Maritime Operations (AMO) MQ-9 unmanned aircraft system (UAS), staffed by AMO and United States Coast Guard (USCG) personnel, worked with the Joint Interagency Task Force – South and international partners to seize 2,646 pounds of cocaine and detain three people in the Eastern Pacific on March 17. This counter-narcotics collaboration between AMO, federal and international law enforcement partners resulted in a narcotics seizure that deprived transnational criminal organizations of an estimated wholesale value of US$30 million.

Domestic Aviation Security Operations MQ-9 UAS

The UAS team detected a fast vessel suspected of being involved in transporting narcotics through the Eastern Pacific staging area. The team notified law enforcement in the partner nation and guided them to the location of the suspect vessel. International partners seized 2,646 pounds of cocaine aboard the ship and apprehended three Colombian nationals.

AMO operates the MQ-9 UAS to increase domain awareness in land and maritime environments. UAS platforms are high-endurance unmanned assets that can be equipped with radar and camera sensors. The MQ-9 plays a vital role in a variety of mission sets, including low-profile aerial surveillance, land border security, maritime surface detection and surveillance, and national disaster relief efforts.

In fiscal year 2021, AMO UAS crews reported 72,836 detections of cross-border and maritime traffic suspected of illegal activity. Additionally, missions conducted by AMO UAS crews in fiscal year 2021 led to the seizure of 9,541 pounds of marijuana and 9,773 pounds of cocaine. Domestic Air Security Operations MQ-9 UAS capabilities are critical in partnership with U.S. Southern Command operations, contributing to command support for increased law enforcement efforts in transit traffic areas of narcotics. This partnership strengthens support for U.S. and international law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand targets. AMO protects our nation by anticipating and countering security threats through our enforcement expertise of air and maritime law, our innovative capabilities and our partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 ships operating in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO is the nation’s law enforcement expert. airborne and maritime.

In fiscal year 2021, AMO’s enforcement actions resulted in 1,119 arrests and 122,035 arrests of undocumented people, as well as the seizure or disturbance of 324,772 pounds of cocaine, 779,725 pounds of marijuana, 18,548 pounds of methamphetamine, 900 weapons and $73.3 million.

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