Nearly 700 kilograms of cocaine were seized in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean through the assistance of HMCS Summerside and Saskatoon earlier this month. The seizures took place while both of the ships were participating in Operation CARIBBE.
“The Royal Canadian Navy continues to provide an important contribution to the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime in South and Central America. By working with our partner nations to disrupt criminal activity, we not only bring security to the region, but also strengthen our international partnerships, and protect Canadians and Canadian interests,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
On March 7, HMCS Summerside was just off the coast of Nicaragua when the ship approached a suspicious 12-metre long sailing vessel. Members of a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), sailing on HMCS Summerside, boarded the suspicious vessel after questioning the master. The team discovered and seized 16 bales of cocaine weighing 324 kg.
“This success belongs to the ship’s company as well as the members of the United States Coast Guard we embarked for this operation. After patrolling these waters together for more than a month and 5000 nautical miles, it’s satisfying to know we’ve contributed to helping keep these drugs off our streets,” said Lieutenant-Commander Paul Smith, Commanding Officer HMCS Summerside.
Just 12 days later, the HMCS Saskatoon crew, its embarked USCG LEDET, and a U.S. Maritime Patrol Aircraft were conducting a routine patrol off the coast of Central America. One of the vessels being monitored, a “panga” style fishing boat, suddenly dumped its cargo and sped off. Upon further investigation of the retrieved content, it was determined that the team had uncovered 10 bales of cocaine from the water.
“This specific evolution exemplified an excellent coordination of assigned assets. Now that we have our first seizure under our belt, we will use lessons identified to improve tactics, techniques, and procedures to improve interoperability with our partners and enhance our efficiency for future cases,” said Lieutenant-Commander Todd Bacon, Commanding Officer HMCS Saskatoon.
Operation CARIBBE is Canada’s contribution to Operation MARTILLO – the multinational campaign against transnational criminal organizations in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Currently HMC Ships Summerside, Edmonton, and Saskatoon are deployed on the operation.