Byline: The Log Staff
More than 15,000 pounds of marijuana were intercepted by the U.S. Navy in the open ocean off Mexico June 16. According to a statement from the Navy, after suspected drug smugglers were spotted in the area, they threw 186 bales of marijuana off their vessels and into the sea.
Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz coordinated with San Diego-based guided missile cruiser USS Princeton, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6, Helicopter Maritime Squadron 7 and the Mexican navy to intercept the drugs June 16. Authorities believe the marijuana was destined for delivery to dealers in the U.S.
According to the Navy, crewmembers aboard USS Nimitz spotted two vessels believed to be carrying drugs. As the Navy’s helicopter patrols flew above the vessels, they saw bags being tossed overboard by men on board, before the boats sped off to the east.
As the two small vessels fled, San Diego-based USS Princeton — part of Carrier Strike Group 11 — sent crewmembers in rigid-hull inflatable boats to investigate and retrieve the bags of drugs as evidence.
About three hours after the discovery of the first two vessels, a third boat was spotted dumping bales of marijuana into the ocean by USS Nimitz crewmembers, and more marijuana was retrieved from the water.
The incident occurred about 85 miles off Mexico, in international waters.
“The coordinated response of all hands involved was phenomenal,” said USS Nimitz Strike Group Commander Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao. “The combined efforts of each of our strike group components demonstrated the flexibility and capability that defines how we conduct business.”
USS Princeton and a Mexican naval ship that came on the scene retrieved more than 186 bales of marijuana. The bales were then transferred to Coast Guard Cutter Edisto for transport to shore.
“This crew’s response was amazing,” said USS Nimitz Commanding Officer Capt. Jeff Ruth. “To operationally shift gears quickly and safely from carrier qualifications to a real-world response shows what true professionals work here.”
The USS Nimitz Strike Group is operating in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California conducting carrier qualification operations.