USS RENTZ, At Sea (NNS) -- The frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46), Helicopter Squadron Anti-Submarine Warfare Light 49 Detachment 5, and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) personnel disrupted approximately 313 kilograms of cocaine while conducting counter drug trafficking operations in December in the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).
The seizure is worth an estimated $10.4 million.
Rentz deployed one of its SH-60B Anti-Submarine Patrol Helicopters to detect and intercept a small open-hull go-fast vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics in international waters.
Coast Guard LEDET personnel aboard the frigate discovered and confiscated the cache of cocaine shortly after boarding the suspect vessel. Three suspects have been detained as a result of the operation and were transferred to Ecuadoran authorities in international waters.
This marks Rentz' fourth successful bust in recent months, as the ship has disrupted approximately 3,000 KG of total cocaine shipments since arriving on station in support of Operation Martillo (Spanish for "hammer").
"Overall, this mission has a high operational tempo. It's up to us to keep the pressure on. The success of last night's operation reflects our continued commitment to countering the flow of illegal narcotics while maintaining a forceful presence." Cmdr. Lance Lantier, commanding officer of USS Rentz said.
Operation Martillo targets illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus, and is an international, interagency operation which includes the participation of 14 countries committed to a regional approach against transnational criminal organizations moving illicit cargo.
U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.