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Coast Guard snipers are targeting drug runners in go fast boats

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Old 08-13-2008, 09:16 AM
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Coast Guard snipers are targeting drug runners in go fast boats

Cool story in Men's Vogue Magazine.

Birds of Prey
Armed with heavy artillery and dead-eye aim, an elite squad of Coast Guard snipers is targeting drug runners from above.
By Jonathan Franklin with Samuel Logan

June 2008

A HITRON chopper gives chase to a go-fast off the coast of Florida. (Photo by Morten Andersen)

On a sunny fall day 300 miles off the west coast of Guatemala, Coast Guard pilot Dan Roberts readied for combat from the front seat of his MH-68A Stingray helicopter. In the back of the chopper, gunner Andrew Kramer 30 years old and tightly wound loaded his .50-caliber rifle, each bullet as thick and long as a hot dog and strong enough to rip through two inches of steel. Somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean below, a band of armed smugglers in a camouflaged speedboat was barreling north with 4,000 pounds $80 million of cocaine onboard. They were aimed for the coast of Mexico, probably Acapulco, where a brutal and entrepreneurial Mexican cartel would ship the product north to the target market: the nostrils of America.

Roberts who sports a shaved head and the swagger that comes with 17 years in the military was on patrol for the Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON), an elite team tasked with tracking down and attacking cocaine shipments from South America. Since the Navy cannot legally open fire on civilian boats that refuse to stop, they call in HITRON, the only U.S. military unit authorized to shoot out the boats' motors a tactic that spares a bloody mess to explain to the press or foreign governments. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the helicopters are the military's safest and most successful tool for stopping the drug boats known as "go-fasts," and have a territorial range that includes the entire Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Inside Roberts's helicopter, the radio crackled with intelligence updates from their Coast Guard cutter and a Border Patrol plane overhead. His quarry poorly paid peasants from Ecuador and Colombia working for the Colombian cartels are typically dispatched from Buenaventura in primitive 40-foot boats propelled by 800-horsepower engines. The boats are stripped to the minimum weight, their decks streamlined to hold the essentials food, water, and cocaine. Sometimes they even skip the food. "The traffickers' ability to vary routes and tactics is amazing," said pilot Eric Belleque. "You're on a cutter and you get word a go-fast is taking off 200 miles east. The race is on."

But even the lightest speedboat is no match for the Coast Guard's helicopters, which easily top 150 mph. When Roberts finally caught sight of the telltale wake from the speedboat, he lowered the chopper to just 50 feet off the water and roared up from behind, blindsiding the crew. "If we can get a line on the wake, we position ourselves nicely to start the show on our terms," he explained to me later. "Surprise and chaos onboard a go-fast always works to our advantage, especially at night." As Roberts pulled the helicopter to the boat's starboard for a clean shot, his copilot hit a flashing blue light, keyed on the aircraft's megaphone, and ordered, "Stop your vessel!" and in Spanish, "Pare su barco, esta es la Guarda Costa!" For a moment, the crew stood like statues then frantically organized a fire-bucket brigade to pass the suitcase-size bales of Colombian marching powder, each worth $3 million, up from the cargo hold and over the rail as the boat sped on. (Instead of sinking, the evidence popped back up, serving as a rest stop for tired seagulls until being retrieved by the feds or washing up on shore for lucky coastal residents.) ..... Click here for the whole story
http://www.mensvogue.com/business/bl...008/06/snipers
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:29 AM
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"Primitive 40-foot boats"? Is Trippple Nitwits building them?
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:36 AM
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It's a fun read, but to be honest, I don't buy it.
I was fortunate to be on Bobthebuilders boat for the run from Key West to Cancun. 400 miles of NOTHING! No Coast Guard, no Homeland Security, no Cuban gun boats, no Heli's, no airplanes....nothing at all!
You would have thought that a 50ft "go-fast" running in a straight line 18miles off the coast of Cuba would have made somebody come and take a look....
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rockstrmkr View Post
It's a fun read, but to be honest, I don't buy it.
I was fortunate to be on Bobthebuilders boat for the run from Key West to Cancun. 400 miles of NOTHING! No Coast Guard, no Homeland Security, no Cuban gun boats, no Heli's, no airplanes....nothing at all!
You would have thought that a 50ft "go-fast" running in a straight line 18miles off the coast of Cuba would have made somebody come and take a look....
Intelligence probably didn't have you guys labeled as a smuggling threat, just a guess though.
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Old 08-13-2008, 10:21 AM
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what about the cubans? fos artical
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Old 08-13-2008, 10:32 AM
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Now this statement is hilarious......

"But just how harrowing is it from the traffickers' point of view? The Coast Guard let me find out. One evening at dusk, it stuck me aboard what may be
the fastest boat in the country a 1,000-horsepower go-fast with a full tank of gas and a top speed of 70 mph."
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Old 08-13-2008, 11:22 AM
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What are you doing reading Vogue? LOL
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Old 08-13-2008, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockstrmkr View Post
It's a fun read, but to be honest, I don't buy it.
I was fortunate to be on Bobthebuilders boat for the run from Key West to Cancun. 400 miles of NOTHING! No Coast Guard, no Homeland Security, no Cuban gun boats, no Heli's, no airplanes....nothing at all!
You would have thought that a 50ft "go-fast" running in a straight line 18miles off the coast of Cuba would have made somebody come and take a look....
do not forget a few years back, a CUBAN GUN BOAT defected to the U.S. ,pulled up to mallory square(key west) to surrender, no one noticed, these guys ended up walking down duval,tyring to find someone to surrender to. there is a reason only 6% of the drugs coming into this country are stopped.
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Old 08-13-2008, 01:01 PM
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The Cubans big mistake was trying to surrender in Key West. There's so much weird and wacky stuff going on there every day, you'll never be noticed...

They should have run through a manatee zone at speed. That would get a million people looking for them.
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Old 08-13-2008, 01:14 PM
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