April 21, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Saskatoon, in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), seized 464 kg of cocaine in international waters in the eastern Pacific off the coast of Central America on April 6, 2017. Additionally, HMCS Saskatoon assisted the USCG in the disruption of two drug shipments on April 13 and 14, 2017, in international waters in the eastern Pacific.
A maritime patrol aircraft operating with Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) spotted a suspicious vessel during a routine patrol on April 6, 2017. HMCS Saskatoon was vectored to intercept the panga-style fishing vessel and launched a rigid hulled inflatable boat with an embarked USCG Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) to board the vessel of interest. The panga-style vessel was investigated by the USCG LEDET and suspected contraband was readily visible. The USCG LEDET then boarded the vessel and three suspected smugglers were apprehended.
On April 13 and 14, suspected smugglers aboard two suspicious vessels threw loads of approximately 750 kilograms of cocaine overboard from each boat because of HMCS Saskatoon’s patrol activities. HMCS Saskatoon and a USCG LEDET intercepted and inspected one of the vessels.
HMCS Saskatoon is currently patrolling as part of Operation CARIBBE, Canada’s contribution to Operation MARTILLO, an interagency and multinational effort to improve regional security and deter criminal activity. The Canadian Armed Forces contributes naval and air capabilities to detect and monitor suspect activities off the Pacific coast of Central America and in the Caribbean.
“HMCS Saskatoon’s crew is proud to deliver excellence at sea and demonstrate Canada’s resolve in countering the drug flow on the high seas in this region.”
Lieutenant-Commander Todd Bacon, Commanding Officer HMCS Saskatoon
“The Royal Canadian Navy and HMCS Saskatoon’s involvement is invaluable to the international efforts to combat smuggling by transnational criminal organizations. Every cocaine load disrupted or seized denies these violent criminal networks millions of dollars’ worth of their deadly product and keeps thousands of pounds of cocaine off our streets.”
Lieutenant Commander Jason Brand, U.S. Coast Guard 11th District Law Enforcement Branch
- A total of 11 bales were seized, weighing 464 kg.
- The seized bales tested positive for cocaine by the USCG.
- In total, HMCS Saskatoon has seized 1,124 kg and disrupted an estimated 1,500 kg of cocaine on Operation CARIBBE in 2017.
- Operation CARIBBE is Canada’s participation in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational criminal organizations in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean.
- The Canadian Armed Forces has participated in Operation CARIBBE with the United States Joint Interagency Task Force South since November 2006.
- USCG LEDET performs a variety of tactical law enforcement missions, including maritime security operations, conducting boardings, and training U.S. and international allied boarding teams. LEDETs’ interdiction and boarding skills remain in demand for conducting antipiracy operations worldwide in addition to multinational sanctions enforcement operations.