C.B.P. News Release

CBP Aircraft Assist in $150 Million Cocaine Seizure

(Thursday, July 23, 2009)

Jacksonville, Fla. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection aviation agents assisted Mexican authorities in the seizure of a go-fast vessel with 16,500 pounds of cocaine, worth approximately $150 million.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday, while conducting a radar patrol in support of a United States/Mexican coincidental operation, a CBP P-3 surveillance aircraft detected two vessels of interest. Each 35-40 foot go-fast vessel had three people on board. One vessel appeared to contain numerous bales while the other appeared to have plastic fuel containers.

CBP pilots notified Joint Interagency Task Force-South, the U.S. counter-narcotics coordinator in the region, which began working with Mexican representatives. Communications were established with a Mexican surveillance aircraft operating in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

CBP P-3 pilots helped vector the Mexican plane to visual contact with the first vessel, and a Mexican frigate was vectored to intercept the second go-fast.

After analysis of photos, the CBP P-3 pilots ascertained which vessel was loaded with the contraband and which was likely a support vessel. CBP agents requested that the frigate proceed to the go-fast with the contraband for intercept. The frigate launched a helicopter, which arrived over the go-fast and remained there until the frigate arrived on scene, just after midnight.

The Mexican surveillance aircraft was directed to the second go-fast and stayed on scene until it had to return to base for fuel. The frigate than launched another helicopter to attempt to relocate the second go-fast, but was unable to find the vessel.

“This seizure is another tremendous example of CBP’s interagency and international cooperation to secure the borders of the United States from smuggling activity,