Categorized | International, Local, Regional

Drug-fighting Gallatin home after Crew makes 4 major busts, helps with fifth

By Allyson Bird

Phtoto caption : Photo by Allyson Bird The Coast Guard cutter Gallatin got four new stickers Wednesday: two ‘snowflakes’ for each cocaine bust and two plant symbols for each pot bust. The Gallatin played a key role in a fifth sting during its recent tour in the Caribbean.

They seized nearly $100 million worth of drugs while patrolling the Caribbean Sea, boarding smugglers’ boats, recovering bales of marijuana tossed into the clear blue water and discovering pounds of cocaine weighing down small pleasure craft.

Maritime Enforcement Specialist Troy Matthews reunites with his wife, Melissa, and their 6-year-old daughter Abigail after 76 days at sea onboard the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin.

Wednesday, after 76 days away, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin returned home to family members patiently waiting at Pier Papa in North Charleston, after the ship completed one of its most successful anti-drug runs.

Before the 167-member crew could walk the gangway from the gray cutter onto dry land, they first added four stickers to the side of the ship: two “snowflakes” for each cocaine bust and two plant symbols for each pot bust.

The Gallatin played a key role in a fifth sting during this tour.

Seaman Julian Cubides, a Colombia native, joined the Coast Guard with hopes of getting law enforcement experience. On this tour, his first, he got his wish.

“Who else at home is moving $93 million of contraband?” he said.

Cubides spotted a “go-fast” boat while on watch and initially thought a fire had started onboard. He soon realized that the red was a tarp to conceal drugs.

The high speed boat took off, but the Coast Guard launched a helicopter and fired warning shots to slow down the fugitives, Cubides said. He boarded the boat after the initial team and saw smuggling operations firsthand.

“Most are fishing boats or go-fast boats piled high with drugs,” he said. “One sank right as we boarded. We actually probably saved their lives.”

In August, the Gallatin and another Charleston-based cutter, the Oak, helped recover 15,000 pounds of cocaine from a submarine-type craft that sank near the Honduran-Nicaraguan border. The discovery offered a peek into the technology traffickers employ today. An FBI team estimated the value of the drugs at $180 million.

In October, the Gallatin intercepted a ship with 2,300 pounds of marijuana, and in November, the Gallatin crew seized $23.5 million in cocaine from a fishing boat. The crew discovered nearly 2,000 pounds of the drug packaged into 37 bales, and arrested four accused smugglers.

Petty Officer Matthew Bonneau helped take down a Colombian-flagged boat with marijuana bound for Honduras. They searched every space onboard the boat for two days and found false walls filled with pounds of pot, he said.

“Any bust that keeps drugs from coming on the streets of the U.S. is good for us,” Bonneau said. “That we were able to get five busts in two months is great for us.”

As the Gallatin glided under the Cooper River Bridge, those crew members marking their final tour tossed their boots overboard in Coast Guard tradition. The rest stood watching the blur of color on the pier slowly come into focus as waiting family and friends.

On shore Melissa Matthews watched for her husband, Maritime Enforcement Specialist Troy Matthews. Their daughter Abigail, who turned 6 Monday, yelled “Daddy!” when the blue-uniformed crew lined up and prepared to debark.

Abigail jumped into her father’s arms as soon as he stepped off the gangway. Melissa Matthews kissed her husband and told him that their family had lots of Christmas music to listen to together.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Allyson Bird

Phtoto caption : Photo by Allyson Bird The Coast Guard cutter Gallatin got four new stickers Wednesday: two ‘snowflakes’ for each cocaine bust and two plant symbols for each pot bust. The Gallatin played a key role in a fifth sting during its recent tour in the Caribbean.

They seized nearly $100 million worth of drugs while patrolling the Caribbean Sea, boarding smugglers’ boats, recovering bales of marijuana tossed into the clear blue water and discovering pounds of cocaine weighing down small pleasure craft.

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Maritime Enforcement Specialist Troy Matthews reunites with his wife, Melissa, and their 6-year-old daughter Abigail after 76 days at sea onboard the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin.

Wednesday, after 76 days away, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin returned home to family members patiently waiting at Pier Papa in North Charleston, after the ship completed one of its most successful anti-drug runs.

Before the 167-member crew could walk the gangway from the gray cutter onto dry land, they first added four stickers to the side of the ship: two “snowflakes” for each cocaine bust and two plant symbols for each pot bust.

The Gallatin played a key role in a fifth sting during this tour.

Seaman Julian Cubides, a Colombia native, joined the Coast Guard with hopes of getting law enforcement experience. On this tour, his first, he got his wish.

“Who else at home is moving $93 million of contraband?” he said.

Cubides spotted a “go-fast” boat while on watch and initially thought a fire had started onboard. He soon realized that the red was a tarp to conceal drugs.

The high speed boat took off, but the Coast Guard launched a helicopter and fired warning shots to slow down the fugitives, Cubides said. He boarded the boat after the initial team and saw smuggling operations firsthand.

“Most are fishing boats or go-fast boats piled high with drugs,” he said. “One sank right as we boarded. We actually probably saved their lives.”

In August, the Gallatin and another Charleston-based cutter, the Oak, helped recover 15,000 pounds of cocaine from a submarine-type craft that sank near the Honduran-Nicaraguan border. The discovery offered a peek into the technology traffickers employ today. An FBI team estimated the value of the drugs at $180 million.

In October, the Gallatin intercepted a ship with 2,300 pounds of marijuana, and in November, the Gallatin crew seized $23.5 million in cocaine from a fishing boat. The crew discovered nearly 2,000 pounds of the drug packaged into 37 bales, and arrested four accused smugglers.

Petty Officer Matthew Bonneau helped take down a Colombian-flagged boat with marijuana bound for Honduras. They searched every space onboard the boat for two days and found false walls filled with pounds of pot, he said.

“Any bust that keeps drugs from coming on the streets of the U.S. is good for us,” Bonneau said. “That we were able to get five busts in two months is great for us.”

As the Gallatin glided under the Cooper River Bridge, those crew members marking their final tour tossed their boots overboard in Coast Guard tradition. The rest stood watching the blur of color on the pier slowly come into focus as waiting family and friends.

On shore Melissa Matthews watched for her husband, Maritime Enforcement Specialist Troy Matthews. Their daughter Abigail, who turned 6 Monday, yelled “Daddy!” when the blue-uniformed crew lined up and prepared to debark.

Abigail jumped into her father’s arms as soon as he stepped off the gangway. Melissa Matthews kissed her husband and told him that their family had lots of Christmas music to listen to together.