Portsmouth-based Cutter returns after seizing $50 million in drugs

Portsmouth-based Cutter returns after seizing $50 million in drugs

Credit: US Coast Guard photo

Shackles and chains are prepared pier side for suspected drug smugglers as Coast Guard crewmembers offload more than $11 million of cocaine Thursday, Jan. 03, 2013 at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

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by 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 12 at 2:39 AM

PORTSMOUTH— The Coast Guard Cutter Forward and her crew of about 110 are due home to Portsmouth Monday following a 45-day patrol in the Caribbean Sea.

During the deployment, the Forward's crew coordinated with other counter-drug agencies such as the Air Force, Navy, Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs and Border Protection and Joint Interagency Task Force South to intercept and interdict illegal activities and stop the flow of narcotics.

The law enforcement crews of the Forward teamed with the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence and an embarked aviation detachment from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron to counter two illicit trafficking interdictions leading to the seizure of more than $50 million in narcotics.

"The ship-helicopter team is a winning combination that enables us to make important contributions to regional and homeland security," said Cmdr. Greg Wisener, the Forward's commanding officer. "Interdiction at sea is a highly-efficient and cost-effective way to counter transnational criminal organizations."

Crew members were excited to be reunited with loved ones after missing the holidays at home.

“It’s a good feeling coming back and knowing that we’re out there for a long time two months at a time, “ said LT Marguerite Collins.

“A lot of times it’s a lot of waiting around for the bad guys, sitting in the ocean, but coming back knowing we have a bust, it’s a good feeling,” she added.

Operation Martillo is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort launched in January 2012, targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Operation Martillo directly supports a key objective of Central America Regional Security Initiative - the disruption of illicit drug trafficking and the dismantlement of transnational criminal networks in Central America.

“It’s nice to come back home and be able to tell these stories to our family and loved ones and let them know that we stopped people from entering drugs into our country,” said BM2 Raymond Figueroa.

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