Canadian military helps U.S. seize 1.1 tonnes of cocaine in eastern Pacific

A Canadian CP-140 Aurora is pictured in 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Murray Brewster

OTTAWA - The Department of National Defence says the Canadian Forces has assisted the United States Coast Guard in seizing more than 1.1 tonnes of cocaine in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

During a search of a suspect vessel on Oct. 25, crew members from HMCS Edmonton and a U.S. law enforcement team uncovered 639 kilograms of cocaine.

Two days later, the same team tracked and boarded another suspect vessel, seizing 468 kilograms of cocaine from the ship and from bags that were thrown overboard by the crew.

Officials say that in both cases, the initial detection of the suspect vessel was made by a Canadian CP-140 Aurora aircraft as part of Operation Caribbe.

HMCS Edmonton is based at Esquimalt, B.C., while the CP-140 Aurora aircraft is based at 19 Wing Comox, B.C.

Lt.-Gen. Stu Beare says the seizures demonstrate the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to suppress illicit trafficking.

"Our air and naval assets are once again clearly demonstrating that we are highly capable of working side-by-side with our allies, combating transnational organized crime and protecting Canadians," Beare said in a release.

Operation Caribbe is Canada's contribution to Operation Martillo, a U.S.-led interagency and multinational effort among Western Hemisphere and European nations, designed to improve regional security and deter criminal activity.

Canada has deployed naval and air assets as part of Operation Caribbe since 2006.