Esquimalt-based HMCS Brandon helps in seizure of $35 million in drugs

An Esquimalt-based navy ship helped intercept 14 bales of cocaine worth more than $35 million off the Central America coast last weekend.

HMCS Brandon was assisting the U.S. Coast Guard with Operation Caribbe, an ongoing multi-national campaign to bust trafficking and organized crime at sea.

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The Department of National Defence said a coast guard aircraft spotted suspected smugglers in a panga-style fishing vessel on Nov. 5. The boat’s crew were throwing plastic-wrapped objects into the water.

The Canadian navy ship launched two rigid-hulled inflatable boats to recover the floating items, while the coast guard went after the crew. The suspected smugglers got away.

The jettisoned objects were retrieved and tested, revealing bales containing more than 700 kilograms of cocaine.

Lt.-Cmdr. Jolene Lisi, commanding officer of HMCS Brandon, said the operation means fewer illicit drugs will reach North America. “This latest seizure serves not only as a testament to the dedication and hard work by the crew of HMCS Brandon and the U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, but to their ability to work in concert.”

The Canadian Armed Forces have intercepted about 3,630 kilograms of cocaine and 1,520 kilograms of marijuana since February. This was the first intercept for HMCS Brandon’s current mission.

The Kingston-class defence ship left Victoria on Oct. 6 with 39 Canadian sailors. It is expected back to Vancouver Island mid-December.

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