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Homeland Security

U.S., Venezuelan Navies Cooperate to Stem Illicit Drug Flow

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090902-10
Release Date: 9/2/2009 1:07:00 PM

From USS Carr Public Affairs

USS CARR, At Sea (NNS) -- Units conducting counter-illicit trafficking (CIT) operations coordinated with elements of the Armada Bolivariana de Venezuela (Venezuelan Navy) on Aug. 23 to transfer over one ton of confiscated cocaine, a captured vessel, and two suspected narcotics smugglers.

USS Carr (FFG 52), with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 43 Detachment 8 (HSL-43 Det 8), and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 409 embarked, intercepted the vessel, a type of high-speed boat called a go-fast, in the central Caribbean, capturing the smugglers and 46 bales of cocaine on Aug. 18. A joint team of U.S. Coast Guardsmen and Venezuelan sailors tracked the vessel, which led to the initial coordination between U.S. and Venezuelan authorities to board and search the boat.

After the capture, authorities arranged for the rendezvous of Carr and the Venezuelan frigate General Soublette (F24) to transfer the detainees, vessel, and drugs, with an estimated street value of $22 million, to Venezuelan authorities.

"This cooperation at sea was made possible by a commonality of purpose, pride in service, and a feeling of mutual respect," said Cmdr. Eric H. Ver Hage, Carr's commanding officer.

During the rendezvous between the two ships, which took place in international waters approximately 80 miles from the coast of Venezuela, Carr hosted five members of Venezuela's equivalent to the U.S. Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency in order to discuss details pertaining to the bust and turnover procedures between the two countries.

"It was an exciting and educational experience to work with the Venezuelan Coast Guard and Navy," said Coast Guard Lt. Lilly A. Zepada, LEDET 409 officer in charge.

"It was good to see our two nations working together on the same goal of counter-narcotics," she added.

Additionally, Carr Sailors and members of LEDET 409 assisted the crew of Soublette with transferring the Venezuelan detainees and rigging the captured vessel for tow.

"Partnerships between nations are built one person at a time," said Ver Hage. "We won the hearts and minds today of at least five Venezuelan's through hospitality and professionalism. I am proud of my crew and the job they did."

Carr, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is currently deployed in the Caribbean under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, conducting counter-illicit trafficking operations in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South, U.S. Law Enforcement and U.S. and participating nations drug control policy.

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