California Based Coast Guard Crew Seizes 6,700 Pounds of Cocaine Worth $115M

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf returned home to Alameda, California, on Oct. 3, after a three- month multi-mission patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean resulting in confiscation of 6,700 pounds of cocaine worth over $115 million.

The crew also patrolled over 3,000 square nautical miles of Ecuadorian and international waters during a joint patrol with the Ecuadorian Navy to detect and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the area of the Galapagos Islands. The Bertholf and the Ecuadorian naval vessel LAE Isla San Cristobal provided persistent presence and surveillance of fishing activity throughout the region during the week-long mission.

Coast Guard officials said that following the two-month multi-mission Eastern Pacific patrol, Bertholf offloaded over 26,000 pounds of cocaine on Sept. 10 in San Diego, an accumulation from multiple U.S. ships conducting counter narcotic operations in the Eastern Pacific.

Coast Guard officials said the mission highlights a Coast Guard partnership with Ecuador to ensure compliance with international maritime laws for fishing. Capt. Brian Anderson, commanding officer of the Bertholf, said it was a unique opportunity to sail with the Ecuadorian Navy, one that demonstrates the effectiveness and importance of international partnerships.

Following their patrol, the more than 150 crew members aboard the Bertholf began a three-week Tailored Ship Training Assessment (TSTA) in San Diego. The assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of the crew’s capabilities to respond to a variety of scenarios from rescuing a person overboard to battling fires aboard ship.

To ensure their safety during a global pandemic, the crew of the Bertholf conducted pre-deployment COVID-19 testing, following a 14-day quarantine and a second round of testing.

The crew kept social distancing under results of the second test came back negative. Then throughout their patrol, the crew maintained strict health precautions in all interactions with the public and during boardings and underwent intensive decontamination procedures after each boarding.