The U.S. Coast Guard medium endurance cutter USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-617) returned home to Cape Canaveral, Wednesday, following a 40-day counter-drug patrol in the Western Caribbean.
During their patrol, the Vigilant’s crew participated in a four-day multi-national counter narcotics joint operation with the Armed Forces of Honduras and later worked with the Colombian Navy in the interdictions of three suspected drug-smuggling vessels around the Colombian Basin.
The cutter was augmented by a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron armed helicopter crew capable of disabling drug-smuggling vessels. The aircrew assisted in the interdiction of two suspected drug-smuggling vessels in a period of less than 24 hours, which resulted in interdiction of approximately 6,800 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $118.3 million.
The Vigilant’s patrol efforts were in direct support of the President’s enhanced counter-narcotics surge announced in early April. The U.S. Coast Guard, working cooperatively with U.S. Southern Command, began this surge effort in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean putting increased pressure on the drug trafficking organizations operating in Central and South America.
Before returning home, the crew conducted the narcotics offload in Port Everglades, Florida, Tuesday. This demonstrates the successful Coast Guard, Navy and partner nations joint counter-drug operations ongoing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The fight against drug cartels in the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Caribbean Sea is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 7th District, headquartered in Miami, Florida. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The cutter Vigilant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Cape Canaveral. The cutter crew’s primary missions include search and rescue, illegal drug interdictions, alien migrant interdictions ensuring safety of life at sea and enforcing international and domestic maritime laws.