Coast Guard Seizes Nearly $200 Million In Cocaine From Transnational Smugglers

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter returned to Astoria, Oregon, on Wednesday after unloading over 12,000 pounds of cocaine seized while patrolling waters off the coasts of Central and South America.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alert participated in a 56-day counterdrug operation in the Eastern Pacific between late June and mid-July, along with the Cutter Steadfast. The pair of vessels seized a total of 8.5 tons — roughly 17,000 pounds — of cocaine being smuggled by traffickers in panga-style fishing boats, reported Military.com.

Authorities said the total haul of illegal narcotics, which were unloaded at a port in San Diego Monday, carry a street value of roughly $260 million. The amount of cocaine grabbed by the crew of the Alert, carrying a value of roughly $188 million, represents the largest cocaine seizure during a single patrol in the vessel’s history. (RELATED: Global Opium And Cocaine Production Has Never Been Higher)

“The crew worked incredibly hard during this patrol, overcoming many challenges,” said Cmdr. Tobias Reid, the commanding officer aboard Alert, according to Military.com. “I am very proud and humbled to be their leader.”

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to make progress in the fight against transnational criminal organizations trafficking drugs throughout the world. The Coast Guard Cutter Campbell arrived at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, June 8 after confiscating nearly 14,000 pounds of cocaine carrying an estimated street value of roughly $203 million.

Several cutters with the U.S. Coast Guard returned to port in Florida on May 10 after seizing roughly 6 tons of cocaine from Central and South American traffickers.

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 2017.

Officials called it one of the largest seizures of cartel narcotics in history.

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