Patrols on both coasts are netting drugs

The efforts may not attract a lot of publicity, but the multinational Operation Martillo continues in full swing in the Caribbean and in the Pacific.

The 3-year-old effort involves ships of a handful of nations to suppress the cocaine and marijuana trade.

The U.S. ships are under the direction of the U.S. Southern Command, based in Florida. The navy vessels are part of the U.S. Fourth Fleet.

One big haul has been the confiscation of 1,017 kilos of cocaine by the crews of  the USS Kauffman along with the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy.

A suspicious freighter attracted the attention of the anti-drug crews off the western coast of Panamá Feb. 28. Also involved were the Canadian ships Goose Bay and Shawinigan, said the Southern Command.

A  U.S. Coast Guard boarding party found drugs, and the freighter eventually was sunk because it was taking on water in high seas, said the U.S. Southern Command.

In the Pacific, the USS Gary is on patrol along with the  U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell and the Canadian Navy vessel Whitehorse.

The Southern Command said that the Gary has stopped 10 smuggling efforts since October. In many cases the smugglers are run towards shore to the waiting Costa Rican patrol boats.

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