(CBS News) A U.S. Customs and Border Protection P-3 jet detected two go-fast vessels carrying more than 4,840 pounds of cocaine with a combined value of more than $362 million, the agency said this week.
On April 20, a Customs P-3 jet operating in the Western Caribbean spotted two go-fast vessels 120 miles off the coast of Panama. The two 40-foot twin-engine vessels were spotted speeding north and appeared to be loaded with numerous packages when the Florida-based P-3 began tracking them, the agency said in a statement.
Local law enforcement assets pursued the two boats, which attempted to evade authorities. One vessel dumped the cocaine at sea before arriving on shore, while the second go-fast was seized nearby. A U.S. Navy vessel operating in the area retrieved 89 bales of cocaine from the scene.
This seizure is in addition to the $2.8 billion detected by the Customs and Border Protection P-3s operating out of Jacksonville, Fla. and Corpus Christi, Texas since October 2011, said the agency.
The patrols are part of Operation Martillo, which began Jan 15, 2012. Since then, the agency says, there have been 39 disruptions of smuggling operations - either seizures or losses by the smugglers. More than 73,920 pound of cocaine have been seized in those interdictions.
Nations taking part in Operation Martillo include France, Spain, The Netherlands, UK, Chile, Colombia, Peru and every country in Latin America.