A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, contributed to the seizure of approximately three tonnes of cocaine worth more than $293 million USD ($368 million CND) in March.
The seizure was part of Op Caribbe – Canada’s participation in U.S.-led enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Just over a year ago, a crew from Comox assisted in a seizure of more than a tonne of cocaine headed for North America in the same operation.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces Operations, the deployment consisted of one CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft; members from multiple units across the country; 14 missions and approximately 150 flight hours.
In addition to sending the Aurora, the Canadian Armed Forces also send navy warships to the mission. The warships find and track vessels of interest, and the United States Coast Guard law enforcement teams then approach and intercept them. The teams then board and inspect the ship and cargo.
The Aurora aircraft and their crews detect and track vessels and aircraft of interest in international airspace. The area covers the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Along with the 12 members from Comox, the 41-person detachment consisted of 20 members from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron; one member from 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron; three members for 14 Operational Support Squadron; two members from 14 Mission Support Squadron; one nursing officer from one Canadian Field Hospital and two air liaison officers from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron and Air Component Co-ordination Element (Atlantic).
Operation Caribbe began in November 2006. In Oct. 2010, it expanded with a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Canada, which allows U.S. Coast Guard teams to operate from Canadian warships.