CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Interdicted 62 Tons of Drugs in First Three Months of Year

by Bethany Blankley


Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations interdicted 62 tons (124,000 pounds) of illicit drugs in the first three months of this year, CBP reports, working with international, federal, state and local partners.

“Collaboration keeps us all safer,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said of their efforts. “CBP AMO works with U.S. and international partners to stem the flow of illicit narcotics. Through the end of March, AMO has contributed to the seizure of over 124,000 lbs of narcotics by partner agencies.”

AMO, working with partner organizations, said it confiscated 86,210 pounds of cocaine, 31,707 pounds of marijuana, 5,661 pounds of methamphetamine, 664 pounds of fentanyl, and 271 pounds of heroin. Among them, only fentanyl and heroin are narcotics, though Magnus included the others with his total figures.

The Drug Enforcement Administration defines narcotics as those that relieve pain and dull the senses. The term is most commonly associated with opioids, including fentanyl and heroin.

Texas and Florida based AMOs agents seized over 15 tons of cocaine from January to March of this year alone. Located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, several teams operate P-3 aircraft throughout North, Central and South America to prevent human and drug smuggling. AMO agents use aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise to interdict criminal activity throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

National Air Security Operations Center P-3 Long Range Tracker and Airborne Early Warning System aircrews worked with several partners to seize 30,535 pounds of cocaine and 7,877 pounds of marijuana in international waters from January to March of this year, CBP reports.

AMO crews frequently detect possible smuggling activity by using long-range radar capabilities in key maritime smuggling source and transit zones. On March 31, for example, a P-3 Long Range Tracker crew conducted a patrol over the Western Caribbean when agents detected a suspect driving a specific type of boat off the Panama coast. AMO agents notified SOUTHCOM partners, and an international team was deployed to interdict. Working with a partner nation, they intercepted the suspect and seized nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine worth nearly $66 million.

AMO includes 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels.

In the second quarter of fiscal 2022, AMO and its partners denied transnational criminal organizations an estimated $419 million.

In fiscal 2021, AMO enforcement actions led to 1,119 arrests and 122,035 apprehensions of illegal immigrants. They also seized or disrupted 324,772 pounds of cocaine, 779,725 pounds of marijuana, 18,548 pounds of methamphetamine, 900 weapons and $73.3 million in currency.

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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “CBP Air and Marine Operations, Interagency Partners Intercept 4735 Pounds of Cocaine During Operation Full Court Press” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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