Cabo Verdean and U.S. forces made a major drug bust after intercepting a suspicious vessel during a joint maritime law enforcement operation.
On April 1, 2022, Cabo Verdean authorities and U.S. Sailors aboard the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams intercepted a vessel smuggling 6,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine. The illicit cargo has an estimated street value of more than $350 million. Cabo Verdean law enforcement arrested seven people during the operation, which was supported by Interpol.
The Brazilian-flagged fishing vessel was stopped as the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership conducted operations in international waters near the west coast of Africa. The U.S. personnel worked in tandem with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics and Cabo Verde’s national Maritime Operations Center.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard have a strong relationship with Cabo Verde and a bilateral law enforcement agreement that allows support to counter maritime crime in waters surrounding the archipelago, the Navy said.
“This operation is an excellent example of strong and mutually beneficial partnership between the governments of the United States and Cabo Verde,” said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “Bilateral agreements such as this allow the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and other agencies to work alongside partner nations in addressing their unique and shared challenges through a collaborative effort.”
The U.S. Navy said that in the past decade it has steadily increased maritime security cooperation with partners on Africa’s Atlantic coast to improve maritime domain awareness to help them protect their sovereign waters.
“The United States has a longstanding commitment supporting African states to address their security challenges in the maritime domain,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gregory Anderson, director of operations for U.S. Africa Command. “Our long-term partnerships with African states, including Cabo Verde, are vital for addressing threats such as terrorism, illicit trafficking, and piracy, and building capacity in the region to ensure long-term security and stability.”