Operation CARIBBE personnel recover bales of illicit drugs that were jettisoned into the Eastern Pacific Ocean during a November, 2016 interception. A Comox 19 Wing team was involved in a similar haul in November of 2019. (Photo: MARPAC Imaging Services)

Comox 19 Wing Aurora crew assists in major cocaine interception during Operation Caribbe

1,200 kilos of cocaine retrieved

  • Feb. 11, 2020 9:30 a.m.

A CP-140 Aurora crew from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron recently returned from a rotation on Operation Caribbe, successful in their mission of enabling a total seizure of over a metric ton of cocaine headed for North America.

The intensive training here on the West Coast has paid off for the Aurora crews as they contributed to the fight against narcotics smuggling, alongside their counterparts from the US Coast Guard and the US Navy. The plane and crew from 19 Wing Comox deployed for a month over November and December, contributing approximately 90 mission hours and searching an area approximately 21,000 square miles, assisting the US-led Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATFS), whose mandate is to detect and monitor illicit trafficking so that international and interagency partners can suppress and apprehend the traffickers.

“We were largely successful,” said Capt. Colin Holubowich, crew commander of the CP-140. “We flew all of our assigned missions and were able to contribute extra mission hours to the operation. We assisted in the location and interception of two vessels, leading to the seizure of 1,200 kilograms of cocaine.”

The Canadian Armed Forces has regularly participated in this operation, which falls under the larger US-led Operation Martillo, since November 2006. Participation usually includes Royal Canadian Navy frigates and Royal Canadian Air Force Aurora aircraft to support JIATFS in the prosecution of illicit smuggling in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific Ocean through detection, monitoring, and interception of suspect maritime vessels.

ALSO: Sea turtles rescued by Operation Caribbe personnel

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14 bales of cocaine weighing an estimated 700 kg rest on the sweep deck of HMCS BRANDON after being jettisoned by a suspected smuggling vessel, a small fishing boat known as a panga, off the Pacific coast of Central America during Operation CARIBBE in November, 2016. A 19 Wing Comox unit was involved in a similar Operation CARIBBE haul in November of 2019. Operation CARIBBE is an ongoing international task force aimed at drug interdiction and counter-smuggling operations in the Caribbean Sea and along the Pacific coastline of North, Central and South America. Image By: U.S. Coast Guard

HMCS WHITEHORSE transports seized drugs to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter during Operation CARIBBE on April 13, 2019. A Comox 19 Wing team was involved in a similar haul in November of 2019. Photo: Canadian Armed Forces, Imagery Technician

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