Several vessels with the U.S. Coast Guard returned to port in Florida on Thursday after seizing nearly 12,000 pounds of cocaine from Central and South American traffickers.
The Coast Guard Cutters James, Bertholf and Bear all arrived at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale with the massive haul, which crews of the vessels seized during six interdictions conducted between February and mid-April. The roughly six tons of cocaine carries an estimated street value of between $300 and $627 million, reported the Miami Herald.
Officials said they patrolled waters off the coasts of Central and South America throughout the several month mission. The Cutter Bertholf was involved in one interdiction, seizing 1,653 pounds of cocaine, while the Cutter James nabbed roughly 4,313 pounds of the substance in two interdictions. (RELATED: Border Agents Nab Illegal Immigrants Trafficking $1.7 Million In Cocaine)
Cutter Bear had the largest seizure of cocaine spread between two interdictions, netting roughly 6,029 pounds of the narcotic.
“Short amount of time, six tons of cocaine,” said Cutter James Captain Mark Fedor, according to CBS Miami. “Each of those bails is really the embodiment of violence, corruption and instability in a Central America region that just can’t absorb it.”
The U.S. Coast Guard is making progress in the fight against drug traffickers. The Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast returned to port in Oregon in January with roughly 12,000 pounds of cocaine seized from cartels and transnational crime groups in the Eastern Pacific. The crew was conducting a 50-day counter-drug patrol in the Pacific off the coasts of Mexico and Central America.
The Steadfast interdicted five separate boats used for drug running, including one custom-built vessel designed specifically to avoid detection.
The U.S. Coast Guard previously seized nearly 16 tons of cocaine during a series of drug busts in the Pacific Ocean, targeting smuggling routes over a 26-day period in March. Officials called it one of the largest seizures of cartel narcotics in history.
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
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