$400M in Cocaine and Marijuana Seized By US Coast Guard in 18 Operations off Coast of Mexico, Central, and South America
October 28: International narcotics traffickers are short some 28,000 pounds of cocaine and about 11,000 pounds of marijuana, according to federal authorities.
Ten U.S. Coast Guard cutters combined for a series of 18 seizures during the last six to eight weeks in international waters of the Caribbean Basin and the Eastern Pacific Ocean —off Mexico and Central and South America — the agency announced Monday.
The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Schulz, and other top officials stood in front of the 19 tons of bundled drugs aboard the Coast Guard Cutter James before the illegal contraband was offloaded from the vessel and turned over to federal drug authorities.
Capt. Jeffrey Randall, commanding officer of the James — one of the ten cutters involved in the seizures — said smugglers typically try to use inventive and furtive methods to get the drugs they are carrying to their destinations.
“Commercial fishing vessels with hidden compartments, low-profiled vessels specifically constructed to evade detection and even a semi-submersible drug submarine to move these narcotics,” Randall said.
Officials praised the Colombian Navy whose personnel were instrumental in assisting the Coast Guard in most of the seizures.
“Drug trafficking is a tragedy and a threat that is taking lives and tearing apart urban and suburban communities in the United States as well as small villages in the rural areas of Colombia,” Rear Adm. José Jauquín Amézquita García, head of Naval planning for the Colombian Navy, told reporters.
During the seizure operations, more than three dozen suspected smugglers were taken into custody for further investigation.
Along the with the cutter James and vessels from the Colombian Navy, the other Coast Guard vessels involved in the drug seizures were:
- Coast Guard Cutter Valiant;
- Coast Guard Cutter Spencer;
- Coast Guard Cutter Northland;
- Coast Guard Cutter Harriett Lane;
- Coast Guard Cutter Thetis;
- Coast Guard Cutter Venturous;
- Coast Guard Cutter Confidence;
- Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk;
- and the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant.
Typically, a sample of the seized drugs are preserved for purposes of legal evidence for future prosecutions while the rest is turned over to federal authorities to be destroyed.
In recent years, the Coast Guard has publicly offloaded thousands of pounds of seized drugs at Port Everglades, its base in Miami Beach and elsewhere to highlight the cooperation among international military and law enforcement agencies to disrupt the illicit drug trade.