In this documentary series the U.S. Coast Guard spoked with Charles Anthony Hopkins, a Chief Warrant Officer retired with nearly 32 years in military service and was one of the original ten members to stand up Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).
The HITRON operations started as an experiment in 1998 to halt the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. Drug trafficking organizations primarily used «go-fast» boats, high-speed smuggling vessels capable of traveling over twice the speed of Coast Guard cutters. The Coast Guard needed a way to counter the threat.
The Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron started with the MH-90 Enforcer (MD Helicopters 900 and later MD 902 Explorer). They were later replaced by the MH-68A Mako (Agusta A109 Power) and currently operate a total of eight Airbus Helicopters MH-65D Dolphin helicopters (awaiting upgrade to the MH-65E version).
The HITRON helicopters operate in known smuggling vectors and rely on expertly trained aircrews and precision marksmen to disable go-fast drug smuggling vessels in the event suspects refuse to comply with verbal and visual warnings for law enforcement boardings under international maritime law. This series focuses on the founding members, pioneers, and stakeholders who have played an essential part in HITRON’s history.
Interview by: Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Moreno.
Edited by: Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Stanton.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.