Border Patrol Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents seized 20 tons of narcotics in the final two months of 2022. Had they reached the market, the intercepted drugs would have been worth almost $80 million.
In a statement, the agency reported the seizure of 37,887 pounds of cocaine and 1,518 pounds of marijuana in international waters during this time period, which have a street value of $77.3 million. The agents highlighted the collaboration of other federal law enforcement agencies and international partners as a key to success for these operations.
20 TONS OF NARCOTICS SEIZED! AMO National Air Security Operations Center P-3 crew detection capability and partnership with @Southcom teams led to seizure of 39,405 lbs of drugs between Nov. 1 & Dec. 31! Read more here: https://t.co/xYX3ujF8wa pic.twitter.com/BGX3D0is11
— CBP AMO (@CBPAMO) January 23, 2023
P-3 aircraft was key
Most of the interceptions were made in the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific. In a statement sent to the media, the agency highlight two operations in particular from the final months of 2022 in which the P-3 aircraft played a prominent role.
In the first of these, which took place on Nov. 10, an air team tracked a suspicious vessel and alerted naval teams from an allied country, which boarded the ship. The action resulted in the seizure of nine packages of cocaine and the arrest of three traffickers. The ship eventually sank, although the maritime agents of the country in question managed to refloat it and capture another 6,852 kilos of cocaine.
Collaboration with Guatemala
One month later, the AMO and its partners in the Joint Interagency Task Force-South managed to seize 1.9 tons of cocaine. P-3 long-range trackers located a low-profile vessel in the eastern Pacific and relayed its position to Southern Command partners. The suspect vessel managed to evade the first boarding attempt, but a Guatemalan vessel joined the chase and managed to intercept it. As a result, three more traffickers were arrested, and 3,792 pounds of cocaine were seized.
The AMO noted that this latest operation demonstrates the success of the U.S. delivery of several Midnight Express interceptor vessels to the Guatemalan Naval Task Force (FEN) for use in counter-narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific. In addition, the AMO deployed Maritime Interdiction agents to train Guatemalan forces.
Interception totals drop
Total seizure numbers in 2022 were lower than in 2021, although fentanyl, methamphetamine and weapons seizures increased. During the past year, AMO operations resulted in 967 arrests and 134,981 apprehensions of undocumented persons. In addition, 250,616 pounds of cocaine, 1,475 pounds of fentanyl, 25,625 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,342 weapons and $21.7 million were intercepted.