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Cutter Bertholf breaks up major cocaine smuggling operation

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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS
    DATE: July 10, 2009 09:25:16 PST Document Number: 2488 http://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/823/287494 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf breaks up
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2009
      DATE: July 10, 2009 09:25:16 PST
      Document Number: 2488
      Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf breaks up major cocaine smuggling operation
      United States Coast GuardEleventh Coast Guard DistrictEleventh Coast Guard District logo



      July 10, 2009

      District 11 Public Affairs (510) 772-8865

      Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf breaks up major cocaine smuggling operation


      ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf seized two suspected drug smuggling boats, detained four suspected smugglers and recovered a bale of cocaine as evidence after disrupting a major drug smuggling operation in international waters some 80 miles off the coast of Guatemala late Wednesday night.

      This seizure is the first drug bust conducted by the crew of the Bertholf.  The ship, home ported here and commissioned less than one year ago, is the first of eight planned National Security Cutters being built as part of the Coast Guard's deepwater major-acquisition and modernization program to replace the 378-foot Hamilton-class high endurance cutters which entered service during the 1960s.

       “I am proud of the Bertholf’s crew and congratulate them on this milestone achievement for the Coast Guard’s newest cutter,” said Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard.  “The cutter is serving in the Southern approaches to stop the flow of drugs across the Southwest Border along with some of the very Coast Guard ships she was designed to replace -- and she’s living up the to a high standard set by her predecessors.  The Bertholf’s management of this very dynamic law enforcement situation shows the usefulness and importance of launching a new generation of modern, well equipped cutters to protect the American people.”

      The incident began when a group of four suspicious ‘pangas’ were spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft and the Bertholf, which was in the area on patrol as part of an ongoing interagency and international counter drug effort, was alerted to the situation.  A marksman aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, operating from the cutter, shot out the engines of two speedboats and fired warning shots at two others in a pursuit during which bales were seen being thrown overboard from all four boats.  The seized boats and suspects were apprehended a short time later by crews aboard two of the Bertholf’s interceptor boats.

      A search for additional jettisoned bales is on-going.  The four apprehended individuals and evidence are being detained aboard the Bertholf until final disposition of the case can be determined. The Coast Guard worked closely with Guatemalan officials during the interdiction.

      Photo of suspected drug smuggling boat intercepted by the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf

      File photo of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf

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