Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Edmonton assisted the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the disruption of three separate illicit drug shipments from November 15 to 18, 2016, in international waters off the Pacific Coast of Central America. The combined weight of the disrupted drug shipments, confirmed to be cocaine by the USCG, was an estimated 2,120 kg.
In each instance, the collaborative efforts of the Royal Canadian Navy, USCG Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDET), USCG cutters, and USCG aircraft led to the disruptions. Most of the cocaine from each disruption was recovered from the ocean after being jettisoned by suspected smugglers in panga-style fishing vessels. In all cases, a USCG aircraft provided observation and vectoring information to teams deployed in rigid-hulled inflatable boats, and USCG cutters served to house and transport the suspected smugglers who were apprehended.
“Edmonton’s interceptions this week are the result of the crew’s focused training in advance of deployment and tireless effort while deployed. I am incredibly proud of their efforts to date. Edmonton has demonstrated the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to communicate, share information, and seamlessly integrate with the maritime patrol aircraft and surface units of our USCG and USN allies to combat narcotics trafficking in the Eastern Pacific.”
Lieutenant-Commander Lucas Kenward, Commanding Officer HMCS Edmonton
In total, 32 bales of cocaine were recovered during three disruptions, weighing an estimated 1,510 kg, while an estimated 610 kg of cocaine were lost to sea despite an extensive search. A total of seven suspected smugglers were also apprehended by the USCG.
In the November 15 incident, a total of one bale of cocaine weighing an estimated 40 kg was recovered from the ocean, with an estimated 610 kg lost to sea, despite a 10-hour search by HMCS Edmonton. A panga-style fishing vessel was boarded by a USCG LEDET team and four suspected smugglers were apprehended. They were eventually transferred to a USCG cutter.
In the November 17 incident, a total of 16 bales of cocaine weighing an estimated 760 kg were recovered from the ocean. A panga-style fishing vessel was boarded by a USCG LEDET team and three suspected smugglers were apprehended and subsequently transferred to a USCG cutter.
In the November 18 incident, a total of 15 bales of cocaine weighing an estimated 710 kg were recovered from the ocean. A panga-style fishing vessel evaded capture after jettisoning its cargo.
The seized substances all tested positive for cocaine by the USCG.
Aircraft involved in the disruptions included USCG HC-130J fixed-wing aircraft and USCG MH-65 helicopters.
In 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has assisted in the seizure or disruption of approximately 5,750 kg of cocaine and 1,520 kg of marijuana.
The CAF has conducted Operation CARIBBE since November 2006. Operation CARIBBE is Canada’s participation in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational organized crime in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Joint Interagency Task Force South, a subordinate command of United States Southern Command, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists US and multinational law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of illicit traffickers.