Alameda-Based 11th District Coast Guard Kills Cocaine Smuggler with Shot from Chopper

[UPDATE: Not sure what makes this a “whiny” intro here. (That’s my way of saying it’s not. And actually, any tone you might be detecting comes from a whole lot of skepticism about “engine fragment or shrapnel injuries.”) Also, never claimed to be “unbiased” or a “journalist.” But I do live in Frisco – you got that part right.]

Well there’s a whole lot I don’t know about this incident involving a purported cocaine smuggler killed on January 19th, 2010 somewhere in the “Eastern Pacific Ocean.” But, apparently, this smuggler and his boat weren’t too far away from Guatemala City because that’s where he ended up dying after the Coast Guard shot at his engine with a massive rifle mounted on a helicopter.

Feel free to read the account below – it was just released from the 11th District HQ in Alameda, They’re looking into the theory that the purported smuggler died due to “engine fragment or shrapnel injuries.”

Did this shooting get any coverage in Guatemala? No se. Did this shooting get much coverage in any English language publication? Not that I can see. Do the Coasties have video of all this? Oh yes, I’m sure. Does the Coast Guard even know this guy’s name? Maybe not, they haven’t released it, anyway.

Here’s your 21st century Coast Guard – a machine gun for warning shots

…and when you ignore that, a massive rifle to take out your engine block, presumably a Barrett M82 .50 cal.

I don’t have a photo of one of those helicopter-mounted rifles, but how would you like .50 caliber rifle bullets like these sailing by your head from a chopper one at a time?

Click to see the ammo – it’s the most powerful commonly available cartridge not considered a destructive device under the National Firearms Act. So don’t be surprised when the unarmored engine block of your “go-fast” boat blows up after you pretend not to hear all the warnings you’ve just been given: 

Last year, the Alameda-based “maritime security cutter” USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), which is like a destroyer, basically, bigger and badder than anything else the Coast Guard has ever had in warm waters, was on a maritime security mission in the same area. So I suppose this is how the smallest branch of the military is spending part of its time these days, just hanging out near Central America looking for drug boats and submarines. It’s like Miami Vice, West Coast or something.

And that’s it.

Maybe the Coasties will issue a more-detailed report sometime.

Read all about it, after the jump

“Suspected smuggler dies after boat, cocaine seized in Eastern Pacfic Ocean

ALAMEDA, Calif. – A suspected cocaine smuggler died in Guatemala Tuesday following the seizure of his boat in the Eastern Pacific Ocean by the U.S. Coast Guard. The man was medevaced to Guatemala City when he sustained possible engine fragment or shrapnel injuries after shots were fired to disable the boat’s engines as it fled from authorities.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, operating from a Coast Guard cutter patrolling the area, pursued the suspicious craft, signaled the operator to stop, and fired warning shots. The boat did not stop so rounds from a high powered rifle were aimed at the boat’s engines to disable them.

A Coast Guard boarding team, in a pursuit boat dispatched from the cutter, discovered the injured suspect when they reached the disabled craft. The man was immediately transferred to the cutter, where a medical technician worked to stabilize his condition, then medevaced to Guatemala City by helicopter. He was transferred to an ambulance ashore in critical but stable condition but was pronounced dead at the hospital.

An investigation will be conducted to review the details of Tuesday’s interdiction operation, try to determine exactly what caused the man’s injuries, and ensure all appropriate procedures and safety measures were followed.

“We extend our condolences to the suspect’s family,” said Capt. Kevin O’Day, chief of response for the 11th Coast Guard District. “The U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies go the extraordinary lengths to minimize the chance of injury to suspected smugglers. It is regrettable, in this case, that the smugglers did not heed our multiple orders or warnings to halt,” he said. “We deeply appreciate the assistance of the Guatemalan Air Force, the Guatemalan Military Medical Center and the Centro Medico hospital for their efforts to organize the medevac of the patient.”

Two other boats were stopped as part of Tuesday’s counter-drug operation. One of those vessels halted after orders to stop and warning shots from the helicopter. Another boat ignored warnings and required engine-disabling gunfire to make it stop. Five suspected smugglers and bales of cocaine thought to have been thrown overboard from the three seized boats are in custody of U.S. authorities. The interdictions occurred in international waters approximately 32-miles off the west coast of Guatemala.

Injuries to smuggling boat crews in connection boat engine disabling fire from helicopters are rare. Including Tuesday’s incident, U.S. Coast Guard records indicate there have been two fatalities and two serious injuries to suspects out of 176 cases where the tactic was used since it was initiated in the late 1990’s.

The law enforcement phase of U. S. drug interdiction operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, California. In 2009 some 135 tons of cocaine were intercepted in the Eastern Pacific by U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies operating in the region.”

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2 Responses to “Alameda-Based 11th District Coast Guard Kills Cocaine Smuggler with Shot from Chopper”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you not support what the men and women of our armed forces do to keep drugs off our streets? mabey the drug runner should’ve stopped when being told to by authorities

  2. sfcitizen says:

    I’m reprinting a press release from your employer – does that necessarily suggest I don’t support your maritime security mission?