The guided-missile destroyer Preble and a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment recovered more than $40 million worth of cocaine during a just concluded counter-narcotics deployment to U.S. 4th Fleet , according to the Navy.
That equals a total of 100 bales of suspected cocaine — or 2,000 kilograms — seized in the 4th Fleet’s area of operations.
During the deployment, the Preble patroled the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The massive drug bust went down June 2 after a Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron 26 spotted a low-profile, go-fast vessel in the Eastern Pacific. The Preble moved in for a long-range intercept and, upon arriving, employed one of its embarked helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 to provide overwatch while the Coast Guard detachment and small boats gained control of the go-fast vessel.
“The success of this deployment was due to our Sailors and embarked Coast Guardsmen working together daily for a common cause — enhanced counter-narcotics operations,” said Cmdr. Leonardo Giovannelli, Preble’s commanding officer, in a Navy news release. “We thank our Preble families and friends whose unwavering support made it possible for their loved ones, our Sailors, to succeed at sea and complete our mission.”
The Preble returned to its homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam June 25. The Preble deployed in March with a detachment from the “Easyriders” of HSM 37 to participate in U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations missions.
Cmdr. Peter Lesaca, the Preble’s executive officer, said that given the global COVID-19 pandemic, leadership and crew members directed a lot of their energy toward keeping the ship safe.
“We took all available precautions before the start of the deployment,” Lesaca said. “I credit our Sailors for understanding the gravity of the pandemic, keeping themselves in good health, and taking care of their shipmates to keep the ship safe.”
The Navy has reported more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases, according to the Pentagon.