The Cutter Stratton spent 98 days patrolling the eastern Pacific Ocean on a mission focused on combating drug smuggling out of South America, according to the San Francisco Bay Area’s NBC affiliate.
During the mission, in which other training exercises were conducted, Stratton’s crew confiscated roughly 4,000 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value exceeding $50 million.
“The intent is for the Coast Guard to push our borders offshore, get down south where the cocaine comes out of Colombia from the jungle, so it never even has a chance to get near the border,” Coast Guard Capt. Nate Moore said.
“We’re working in an area about the size of the United States of America, trying to find small 30 foot long speedboats that are trying to NOT be found,” said executive officer Coast Guard Cdr.Matt Waldron.
The Coast Guard deployed a ScanEagle drone—an eight-foot unmanned surveillance aircraft similar to drones used by the Army and Navy—during Stratton’s nearly 100 day mission, according to the Bay Area’s CBS affiliate. It was the first time the drone had been deployed by the Stratton, allowing for hours of airborne surveillance hidden from smugglers.
The efforts of the Stratton were complimented by the Cutters Spencer, Sherman and Mohawk. Between the four cutters, the Coast Guard seized more than 12,000 pounds of cocaine between mid-Jan. and March, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.