The Canadian naval vessel HMCS Saskatoon was involved in the seizure of a cumulative total of 14.5 tons of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $500 million in a 26-day anti-drug trafficking mission called Operation Martillo.
The cocaine was seized in waters along the shores of Central and South America, where the suspected drug traffickers were headed.
This is not the first time Canadian Armed Forces have provided assistance in a multinational anti-drug trafficking operation.
Since 2006, the country’s naval force has proved especially instrumental in cutting off illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and the Eastern Part of the Pacific Ocean.
HMCS Saskatoon has Seized over a Ton of Cocaine since Last Year
On March 19, 2016, the Canadian naval ship was involved in another cocaine bust where a total of 700 kilograms of cocaine was seized.
The naval ship assisted with the seizure of 360 kilograms of cocaine after a fishing boat ferrying it to the shores panicked and hauled the whole load overboard.
On March 12, during the recent 26-day Operation Martillo, HMCS Saskatoon seized another estimated 660 kilograms of cocaine, bringing its grand total to 1.2 tons seized within the span of just one year.
The HMCS Saskatoon became involved with the multinational operation led by the US in February this year. The operation was aimed at cutting off the cocaine routes around the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Aside from the seizure of 14.5 tons of cocaine, Operation Martillo also led to the arrest of 30 suspects believed to be a part of various drug smuggling rings for different crime organizations.
Since Operation Martillo was led by the US, the suspects will possibly be put to trial in United States courts.
A total of 17 Raids were Carried Out
During the course of the 26-day operation, a total of 17 raids were carried out on different vessels and on different parts of the two oceans.
The HMCS Saskatoon, based out of British Columbia’s CFB Esquimalt, worked together with Guard LEDET 405, a US Coast Guard vessel, in a raid where over one ton of cocaine was seized by the authorities.
The Canadian vessel’s 660-kilogram seizure also cumulated with the arrest of three suspected cocaine traffickers who had been trying to dump their load after being detected by the naval forces involved with the operation.
A total of 33 bales with a grand weight of 660 kilograms were recovered in this particular cocaine bust.
Western Hemisphere Heavily Affected by Drug Trafficking
The US Coast Guard Captain Mark Feder spoke at a news conference held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in which he emphasized the urgency of cutting off the cocaine supply to the Western Hemisphere.
According to him, the instability, violence, and corruption brought about by cocaine to a hemisphere with eight countries with the highest murder rates was highly detrimental to progress and a major hindrance to the proper functioning of the law enforcement.
Federer believed that the cocaine smugglers carry more than just shipments of illicit drugs to different parts of the world—they carry death, poverty, and untamed corruption as well.
He was hopeful, however, that continued displays of solidarity between international agencies and ally countries would be enough to bring an end to the scourge that is the second most trafficked drug in the world.
HMCS Saskatoon Commanding Officer Proud of Crew’s Performance
Lieutenant Commander Todd Bacon applauded the crew of the Canadian vessel following the successful operation which he feels will greatly contribute to regional stability.
He attributed their flawless coordination in the cocaine busts to plentiful training and preparation leading up to the commencement of Operation Martillo.
The HMCS Saskatoon will undoubtedly be involved once again should the Operation Caribbe, the name given to the multinational anti-drug trafficking operation, resume once again in the near future.