Esquimalt ships heading home after anti-drugs mission

Two ships based at CFB Esquimalt are battling West Coast storms on their way to their home port after helping to stop the trafficking of huge quantities of illicit drugs in international waters as part of Operation Caribbe.

Since leaving Esquimalt on Oct. 23, the Royal Canadian Navy ships, with 38 crew apiece, assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in seven seizures or disruptions involving nearly 9,800 kilograms of cocaine off Central and South America.

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In 2014, the amount of drugs seized was about 5,400 kg; in 2013 it was 6,434 kg and in 2012 it was 8,060 kg, said Capt. Tom Edelson, public affairs officer for the Department of National Defence in Ottawa.

The seven cases this year involved intercepting suspected smuggling vessels and locating floating bales of contraband at sea. 

Brandon is credited with two additional interdictions and Whitehorse with one more on top of the seven.

Both Brandon and Whitehorse are in transit from the eastern coast of Central America, but have been delayed by the buffeting storms affecting the West Coast after spending the weekend in San Diego, Edelson said.

They are expected to arrive towards the weekend or Monday, he said.

The Carribbe mission started in 2006, but how long it continues will be a political decision, Edelson said.

The Canadian ships were assisted by U.S. aircraft and coast guard law enforcement personnel who boarded other vessels involved with smuggling.

“I could not be more proud of the professionalism, communication and skill set of all the members involved in these disruptions,” Brandon’s Lt.-Cmdr. Landon Creasy said in a statement.

“This demonstrates the strength in teamwork and working as a cohesive unit to suppress criminal activity in the region,” Whitehorse Lt.-Cmdr. Shane Denneny added, also in a statement.

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

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