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Pic: US Coast Guard cutter offloads $55M worth of drugs in Fla.

A Coast Guard helicopter (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 09, 2024

The USCGC Resolute returned to its home port in St. Petersburg, Florida, after a 60-day patrol that resulted in the confiscation of approximately $55 million worth of illicit narcotics. While on patrol, members of the crew also held meetings with Panama’s National Aeronaval Service to discuss illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. 

According to a press release from the US Coast Guard, Cmdr. Matthew R. Kolodica, commanding officer of the Resolute, expressed his pride and respect for all crewmembers.

“The pride and dedication of Resolute’s crew was evident throughout the entirety of our patrol. Despite being deployed throughout the holiday season, the crew served with professionalism. The result of their collected effort was an extremely successful patrol, which kept $55 million dollars of drugs from reaching their intended destination,” Kolodica said. “Every Resolute sailor and their loved ones should be proud; they are a living example of the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus – Always Ready.’ It is an honor to lead such a fine ship and crew.”

While patrolling in support of Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF)-South, the crew of the Resolute intercepted two suspected drug trafficking operations, resulting in the detainment of six suspected traffickers, 6,656 pounds of marijuana, and 3,700 pounds of cocaine. 

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JIATF-South, directed by Rear Admiral Mark Fedor, is located in Naval Air Station Key West. The task force conducts detection and monitoring operations through their Joint Operating Area for the purpose of interdiction of illicit trafficking.

The task force has a successful record of both illicit drug seizure and rescue operations. In October 2023, USCGC Valiant conducted a patrol that resulted in the seizure of $30 million of illicit drugs as well as two successful rescue operations. Just one month prior, a multi-agency operation resulted in nine interceptions, leading to the confiscation of $160 million of illicit drugs and the detainment of 12 suspected traffickers. 

According to the Department of Defense Drug Interdiction and Counter Drug Activities 2024 budget, in 2022, JIATF-S successfully intercepted and apprehended 192 suspected trafficking operations and participated in an additional 179 disruptions in collaboration with partnership agencies. These operations resulted in 959 detainments, 317 conveyances, and the seizure of 298 metric tons (MT) of cocaine and 64 MT of marijuana.