Aerial footage from the United States Coast Guard shows cocaine drug smugglers fleeing officers on a high-speed boat while dumping large bags of cocaine into the Pacific Ocean near southern California on July 18.
More than 26,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $350 million was offloaded in San Diego Friday after the U.S. Coast Guard seized the drugs during a weeks-long operation in international waters.
“This was 26,000 pounds of cocaine that will not make it to the main streets of the U.S.A, and it also gives us the opportunity to make sure that we can continue to combat transnational criminal organizations that transport this cocaine deep in the Pacific every single day,” Rear Adm. Peter Gautier, the 11th Coast Guard District commander, said.
The cocaine, worth an estimated $350 million, was seized in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The contraband represents six suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions and the recovery of floating cocaine bales by the crews of two Coast Guard cutters off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America between late June and mid-July.
Five of the interdictions were carried out by the Steadfast’s crew, one of the Coast Guard’s oldest cutters commissioned in 1968. One interdiction was by the crew of one of the service’s newest ships, the Coast Guard Cutter Robert Ward (WPC-1130) commissioned in March, and is not only the cutter’s first drug bust, but the first drug bust by a Coast Guard Sentinel-class fast response cutter in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The offload from the Steadfast follows the July 11 offload of more than 39,000 pounds of seized cocaine from the Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL-775) in San Diego representing 14 interdictions in the same region. So far in fiscal year 2019, the Coast Guard has made more than 100 interdictions, seized more than 230,000 pounds of cocaine and detained more than 400 suspected smugglers in the drug transit zones of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
“There are few closer relationships than those among the members of a ship’s crew performing a dangerous, important mission,” said Cmdr. Dan Ursino, the Steadfast’s commanding officer. “Steadfast’s crew has worked as a remarkable, dedicated team with a strong common goal – protecting their nation from the deadly, destructive effects of illegal drugs. I’m very proud of each and every one of them, and commend them for their hard work and dedication to keep themselves and their ship prepared for this vital work. Something that makes their achievement even more impressive, is that before leaving homeport on June 13th, nearly a third of this crew had never sailed before on Steadfast – a true testament to the emphasis we put on standards and training.”
This year alone, the Coast Guard has intercepted more than 230,000 pounds of the narcotic and has detained more than 400 smugglers from the Eastern Pacific Ocean drug transit zones.