JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant returned to Naval Station Mayport Tuesday after completing a seven-week counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
While on patrol, the Valiant crew interdicted and seized more than 1,600 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of over $27 million. Three suspected narcotics traffickers were detained with the assistance of a Maritime Patrol Aircraft, off the coast of Panama, in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South.
“I could not be more proud of team Valiant as we successfully executed another difficult patrol in the face of a global pandemic,” said Cmdr. Jeff Payne, Valiant’s commanding officer. “This patrol was especially challenging with over 40 percent of the crew transferring prior to departure and several equipment casualties that required unique workarounds, but the crew always kept a positive attitude.”
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperate in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean 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 Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Valiant is a multi-mission 210-foot medium-endurance cutter. Missions include search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection, homeland security and national defense operations.