Pensacola-based Coast Guard Cutter nabs more than $59 million in cocaine and 10 smugglers

Posted on October 12, 2020 by Staff reports

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless (WMEC-624) offloads bales of cocaine weighing 2290 kilograms at Sector St. Petersburg Oct. 7, 2020. Federal law enforcement agents received custody of the $86.6 million drug shipment and 10 male-suspected smugglers apprehended. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Hudson)

The Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless and crew returned to their homeport of Pensacola, Florida, after a 56-day patrol where the cutter and crew interdicted and seized more than $59 million in cocaine.  

In late August, the Dauntless crew responded in support of Hurricane Laura relief efforts as an offshore search and rescue asset near Lake Charles, Louisiana. The crew also provided critical updates on the locations of navigational aids marking the Port Arthur entrance channel, and worked to respond and relay information concerning distress signals to the appropriate search and rescue mission coordinator. 

After assisting relief efforts, the Dauntless crew transited through the Panama Canal. They crossed into the Pacific Ocean and supported interagency efforts in combating the transport of illegal drugs. Working closely with interagency assets, the Dauntless crew interdicted and seized approximately 3,500 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of over 59 million dollars.

“Every Dauntless shipmate put forth an astounding amount of effort to overcome challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as hurricanes Marco and Laura to ready themselves and the cutter for the counter-narcotics mission,” said Cmdr. Paul S. McConnell, Dauntless’ commanding officer. “Their preparation and effort resulted in the successful execution of multiple interdictions. I am proud of the crew’s accomplishments, and grateful for the sacrifices of my shipmates and their families back home, who have been enduring the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sally, which made landfall near Pensacola, Florida, while Dauntless was underway.”

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperate in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations. 

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

This patrol marks the Dauntless’ second operational patrol during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Dauntless is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Pensacola.