Coast Guard Seizes Half A Billion Dollars Worth Of Cocaine Smuggled In Pacific

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The U.S. Coast Guard seized nearly half a billion dollars of cocaine during a series of drug busts in the Pacific Ocean targeting smuggling routes over a 26-day period.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James returned to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday with the haul, which carried a weight of roughly 16 tons. Authorities estimate the total cocaine seizure to be worth an estimated $420 million. The Coast Guard interdicted 17 drug smuggling vessels traveling in the Eastern Pacific along the coasts of Central and South America during the 26-day mission with the assistance of Canadian authorities, reports CBS Miami.

Five of the searches were conducted by the Coast Guard’s helicopter interdiction squad, which alone seized 5.19 tons of the total load.

“With this ship, we’re capable of owning the night,” James’ Captain Mark Fedor told CBS Miami. “They’re just not carrying cocaine. They’re delivering violence, corruption, and instability to a part of the world – the Western Hemisphere – that just can’t afford it.”

Authorities arrested more than 30 drug smugglers over the course of the nearly month long mission who will face prosecution in the U.S. Fedor noted how important these seizures are during a time when the cocoa crop is thriving in South America.

The seizure is the latest bust by U.S. authorities of smugglers trafficking narcotics on the seas. A U.S. Navy destroyer seized nearly 600 pounds of heroin in the Arabian Sea March 13 after discovering the stash of drugs during a routine boarding.

The Laboon, a guided-missile destroyer, launched with the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group in January from Norfolk, Va., which U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said was conducting maritime security operations in the region. The Laboon, a guided-missile destroyer, intercepted a small sailing ship March 13 for a flag verification and found the vessel was stateless. While searching the ship, the Navy uncovered the massive stash of heroin aboard.

Officials called it a “big win” in the war against international narcotics trafficking.

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