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A banner week for Coast Guard drug seizures

Just two days after the U.S. Coast Guard offloaded 16 tons of seized cocaine in Florida, the agency announced the seizure of another 1,608 kilograms of the drug off Puerto Rico. Tuesday s major offload in Port Everglades, Fla., came from seizures in international waters off the Eastern Pacific Ocean during a 26-day period. The drugs, worth an estimated $420 million wholesale, were interdicted as part of an operation with the Canadian Coast Guard. U.S. cutters James, Mohawk, Sherman, and Tampa all participated in the operation, which netted 17 separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions. A Coast Guard helicopter also contributed.

I am extremely proud of the crew of Coast Guard Cutter James and our embarked HITRON aviation detachment for a highly successful inaugural patrol, said Vice Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area. Our persistent maritime presence in drug trafficking zones from cutters like James, enables us to interdict bulk quantities of drugs at sea, preventing criminal networks illicit cargoes from reaching the shores of Central America, and land routes into the United States.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard announced that the 154 fast response cutter Heriberto Hernandez and a 33 response boat helped nab four suspected smugglers and seized 1,608 kilograms of cocaine off the coast of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The vessels responded to reports from a Customs and Border Protection maritime patrol aircraft that a 35 go-fast vessel was transiting in the dark without navigation lights in in waters off Dorado, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard also dispatched an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft to assist with aerial surveillance, and CBP and Puerto Rico Police marine units also responded. The Coast Guard and CBP boats engaged in a high-speed pursuit of the go-fast, which was eventually interdicted by the CBP marine unit.

Two of the suspected smugglers were arrested aboard the go-fast while two others, who jumped overboard during the pursuit, were recovered and apprehended by the crew of the Coast Guard response boat and the Puerto Rico Police maritime unit.

A Banner Week For Coast Guard Drug Seizures

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police air and maritime law enforcement units interdicted and seized a drug smuggling vessel March 27, 2017 with 1,608 kilograms of cocaine aboard and apprehended four suspected smugglers off the coast of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. USCG photo. In all, 48 bales containing 1,449 bricks of cocaine weighing approximately 1,608 kilograms were field tested and yielded positive results to the presence of cocaine. The contraband, detainees and seized go-fast were placed in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations special agents in San Juan.

The strong interagency partnerships, effective coordination and the rapid response displayed by all responding units resulted in the interdiction of this major drug shipment and the apprehension of the smugglers, who will now have their day in court, said Capt. Robert Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. Our collective resolve and tireless efforts to interdict and stop drug smuggling vessels at sea is making a difference in providing for the security of our citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

MPACT students consider life as a ‘Citizen Soldier’

CLOSEMPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier' MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'

MPACT students view life as a Citizen Soldier Rebecca Burylo

Classroom of the Week

MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'Buy Photo

Jocquez Dixon looks through a scope as the Alabama Army National Guard holds a Citizen Soldier Career Exposition for students of MPACT in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday March 30, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)Buy Photo

Sliding behind the wheel of an Army Humvee or looking through the scope of a high-tech weapon, students at Montgomery Preparatory Academy for Career Technologies gained a very real look at what their lives could become as a citizen soldier. Home to a large number of Guard units, the Alabama Guard has a lot to offer to those looking for a career or who can’t afford a college education. Staff Sgt. George Rudolph was raised in Lowndes County in a humble home. When it came time to graduate high school, college seemed out of reach. The Alabama National Guard made it possible.

Now successfully serving the Guard for 28 years and currently assigned to the 167th 1670th Transportation Company out of Clayton, Rudolph candidly shared his story with MPACT students on Thursday.

MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'Buy Photo

The Alabama Army National Guard holds a Citizen Soldier Career Exposition for students of MPACT in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday March 30, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'Buy Photo

The Alabama Army National Guard holds a Citizen Soldier Career Exposition for students of MPACT in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday March 30, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'Buy Photo

The Alabama Army National Guard holds a Citizen Soldier Career Exposition for students of MPACT in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday March 30, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'Buy Photo

The Alabama Army National Guard holds a Citizen Soldier Career Exposition for students of MPACT in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday March 30, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

He was among nearly a dozen units from around Montgomery that came to the school to show off combat gear, high-tech weapons, jeeps and trucks. The goal was to get students interested in making the Guard a career and the benefits that come with it like gaining a paid-in-full college education, certification in a specialty and a career. That’s what Rudolph did.

“I didn’t want to put that financial burden on my parents so the Guard was there to offer me an education and I took it,” said Rudolph who now drives army vehicles for the Guard. But being a truck driver wasn’t the only career option presented to students. Personnel from medical units, security forces and Black Hawk pilots set up stations in the parking lot where students like Jaidon Brown, 15, had a chance to walk around, ask questions and even try on some of the gear.

MPACT Students Consider Life As A 'Citizen Soldier'Buy Photo

The Alabama Army National Guard holds a Citizen Soldier Career Exposition for students of MPACT in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday March 30, 2017. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

Brown, who is studying IT at MPACT strapped on a flight vest and clambered up a Humvee to “load” a mounted weapon.

The experience was “eye-opening” for him, who admitted that although he was interested in joining the Air Force like his cousin, he had no idea the Guard had so much to offer.

“Yea, I’m definitely considering the Guard now, especially special forces and aviation,” Brown said. “It’s really nice since I play a lot of war-type video games, but to see this stuff up close wants me to do it even more. Like, what if I’m doing this to help my nation out? That would be great.”

The day was one of six Citizen Soldier Career Expos presented at different schools around the state this month in collaboration between the Alabama National Guard 22nd Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Alabama Army National Guard units and the Alabama Department of Education with the goal of “connecting students in tech courses to similar programs available in the military” said MPACT principal Marsha Baugh.

“It’s amazing how much these fields connect with what our career tech students are learning,” Baugh said. “That’s our ultimate goal, show them what kind of opportunities are out there for them.”

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Gonzaga Madness: NJ coach loving his former team’s rise

CLOSEGonzaga Madness: NJ Coach Loving His Former Team's Rise Gonzaga Madness: NJ Coach Loving His Former Team's Rise

Inside the bowels of Madison Square Garden, Josh Newman demonstrates how media members must comply with the NCAA’s courtside drinking rules at March Madness. But there’s one slight problem. Jerry Carino

This Final Four is special for Hillsborough coach and Asbury Park H.S. administrator Lennie Parham, who played guard for the Zags in the 1980s

Gonzaga Madness: NJ Coach Loving His Former Team's RiseBuy Photo

Lennie Parham, dean of students at Asbury Park High School, surrounded by Gonzaga basketball memorabilia in his office. He played guard for the Zags in the 1980s.(Photo: Doug Hood)Buy Photo

Lennie Parham s phone started buzzing Saturday night, shortly after Gonzaga punched its Final Four ticket. His old college basketball teammates and coaches, guys who laid the foundation for the Zags rise to national prominence, were talking about a reunion in Arizona this weekend. He hadn t heard from some of them since the 1980s, when they took the court for the Jesuit university in Spokane, Wash. Parham played two seasons under coach Dan Fitzgerald and was a backcourt starter on the 1986-87 squad that went 18-10 and finished second in the West Coast Conference.

It was great catching up with everybody, he said. There s great pride, man. Everybody is pumped up. Parham won t be joining them in Phoenix. It s a long trip for a rare Gonzaga alum in New Jersey. But the Hillsborough High School boys basketball coach, who works as dean of students at Asbury Park High, will be decked out in full Bulldogs regalia as he watches on TV.

This moment has been a long time coming.

Gonzaga Madness: NJ Coach Loving His Former Team's RiseBuy Photo

Lennie Parham, dean of students at Asbury Park High School, displays his Gonzaga basketball memorabilia at his office. He played guard for the Zags in the 1980s. (Photo: Doug Hood)

Comparing Kevin Willard’s pay to NCAA Tourney field

Learning from John Stockton

Parham grew up as the son of an Air Force officer stationed in Washington state, so Gonzaga was local for him. The Bulldogs were coming into their own. They sent star point guard John Stockton to the Utah Jazz in 1984, but he returned home each fall to work out with his alma mater. The young Parham sharpened his skills against a future Dream Teamer.

Gonzaga always had good guards, but he really elevated the position, Parham said. He would hang out with us all the time, and he’d bring some of the old Jazz guys with him. As a senior in 1986-87, Parham averaged 7.1 points, 2.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game. He dueled with a young Gary Payton in a loss to Oregon State, helped Gonzaga beat Washington State on the road and notched an old-fashioned 3-point play with one second left in an 81-79 triumph at Loyola Marymount.

Gonzaga Madness: NJ Coach Loving His Former Team's RiseBuy Photo

Lennie Parham, dean of students at Asbury Park High School, holds up the team photo for 1986-87 Gonzaga basketball. (Photo: Doug Hood)

Carino: After latest gem, bring the Final Four to MSG

The Kennel, Gonzaga’s former 4,000-seat campus arena with a rich history (Led Zeppelin performed there in 1968) rocked with packed crowds all winter.

Gonzaga was still good back then, but people around the country didn t know about them, Parham said. There was no social media and no television exposure. But enthusiasm on campus was always high. A 3-point loss to Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference Tournament dashed the Bulldogs hopes for their first NCAA Tournament appearance, a goal that wouldn t be realized until 1995. Now, of course, the program goes every March under Mark Few. Parham has gotten to know the head coach over the years, and he s not surprised Few has stayed in Spokane despite endless inducements to leave. Few s predecessor, Dan Monson, bolted for Minnesota in 1999 but couldn t get over the hump there. Now he coaches at Long Beach State.

I don t even know if Minnesota is a better job than Gonzaga, not now, said Parham, who coached as a Division I assistant under Ben Howland at Pittsburgh and Northern Arizona. It s a great school with great facilities. You don t need anything else.

Gonzaga Madness: NJ Coach Loving His Former Team's Rise

Hillsborough coach Lennie Parham (Photo: (Photo by Keith A. Muccilli/ Correspondent))

‘Uncharted territory’

The life of a Division I assistant is grueling, with constant travel, endless hours and little job security or credit. Parham eventually opted for the stability of the high school scene. In 2004 he guided Plainfield to a sectional title and later became athletic director at New Brunswick before returning to the court with Hillsborough in 2015. His son Jackson plays football and basketball for the Raiders. Setting personal allegiances aside, how does this coach break down Gonzaga s semifinal against South Carolina?

Both teams are in uncharted territory, so it should be a great game, he said. South Carolina is tough; they re really defending the perimeter. (Gonzaga) has to keep knocking down that three. The way to do that is by getting the ball inside, play inside-out first. Parham knows there is more than a national title at stake. Gonzaga is playing to shatter a paradigm the label that separates so-called mid-majors from power-conference teams. That stereotype has been eroding for years now, chipped away by Butler, Wichita State and the Zags, who can deliver the death blow over the next four days.

I know people want to call us mid-majors, but we re not really mid-majors anymore, he said. Any time those schools break through, it s good for college basketball. Kids know they don t have to go to a name school to win and have a great experience. If Gonzaga wins, it helps everybody.

Staff writer Jerry Carino:

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