USS INGRAHAM, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Ingraham (FFG 61) with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 Detachment 2 and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) disrupted approximately 793 kilograms of cocaine while conducting counter narcotic operations in the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility in June.
Ingraham, based in Everett, Washington, successfully tracked and intercepted the Maria Bonita. One of Ingraham's SH-60B Seahawks visually located the vessel and maintained contact while Ingraham closed in on the Maria Bonita.
Although the Maria Bonita appeared to be a fishing vessel, questioning from the LEDET personnel revealed a highly suspicious crew. The U.S. Coast Guard LEDET embarked the vessel, apprehended four personnel, and conducted a search of the craft. Their search revealed 30 bales of cocaine in a hidden compartment totaling 793 kilograms.
"Narcotics smuggling in this area of ocean has been going on for awhile; it is my goal to improve our tactics and efficiency to the extent that we make it increasingly costly and challenging for the traffickers," said Cmdr. Dan Straub, commanding officer of Ingraham.
The Maria Bonita, as well as the four detainees and narcotics, were later turned over to Costa Rican officials.
"Without a doubt, this is one of the most talented and professional crews in the Navy. Each and every week they continue to demonstrate just that, by executing and excelling on mission," remarked Cmdr. Joey Frantzen, who turned over command of Ingraham to the ship's former executive officer, Cmdr. Straub June 9.
Ingraham has disrupted a total of 4,551 kilograms of cocaine during her deployment. This is her second successful interception since arriving to Fourth Fleet in support of Operation Martillo. Her first interception was the seizure of a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) in May.
During at-sea busts in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by U.S. military or law enforcement aircraft or vessels. The actual interdictions - boarding, search, seizures and arrests - are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments or partner nation law enforcement agencies.
U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, California.
Operation Martillo (Hammer) includes the participation of fourteen nations that are working together to counter transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Joint Interagency Task Force South, a National Task Force under U.S. Southern Command oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists U.S. and multinational law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of these illicit traffickers.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.