U.S. Customs seizes $17m marijuana shipment

U.S. Customs seizes $17m marijuana shipment

The vessel. PHOTO CREDIT: CBP

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the weekend said operatives of its Air and Marine Operations (AMO) have impounded over three tons of marijuana worth $17 million aboard a panga-style vessel off the coast of Central America.

The Panga is a type of modest-sized, open, outboard-powered, fishing boat common throughout much of the developing world, including Central America.

The CBP agents on routine patrol in P-3 Orion turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft in late March spotted the abandoned fishing boat in international waters off the coast of Central America.

A US Coast Guard law enforcement team aboard a US Navy ship patrolling in the area boarded the vessel and discovered 6,100 pounds of the illicit drug destined for the U.S.

The team seized the narcotics and sank the vessel as a hazard to navigation.

“Typically most of the illicit traffic in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is smuggling cocaine, but marijuana is also a major source of income for drug trafficking organizations,” said Director of Air and Marine Operations Bob Blanchard, in a statement.

The National Air Security Operations Center—Corpus Christi is a division of Air and Marine Operations and operates the Lockheed P-3 Orion conducting counter-drug patrol missions over the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Together with the National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. Customs and Border Protection P-3 crews seized or disrupted 261,939 pounds of cocaine in 2018.