On May 2, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen and an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment were recovering more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana from a smuggling boat in the Caribbean.
While on a routine patrol about 15 miles northeast of Navassa Island – a U.S.-administered wildlife refuge located between Jamaica and Haiti – an embarked MH-60R Sea Hawk from Lassen spotted a small go-fast boat with three suspected drug smugglers throwing packages over the side.
A small boat crew from Lassen carried the ship’s Coast Guard detachment to the scene to investigate. Upon arriving, the boat crew recovered 65 packages of marijuana totaling more than 3,500 pounds.
If grown domestically and sold at legalized retail outlets in the United States, the haul would be worth more than $10 million (though far less on the legalized wholesale market).
“This is an excellent example of the teamwork aboard Lassen,” said Cmdr. Judson Mallory, USS Lassen’s CO. “Our ships and aircraft have unique capabilities and our teams worked well together to conduct this operation safely and successfully.”
USS Lassen is deployed in support of U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s anti-smuggling operations mission in the Caribbean. She is a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer designed for the full spectrum of high end naval warfare, including air defense, surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-ballistic missile operations.
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs, building on a long-standing interagency effort. 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.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.SU.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations 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 region.