The United States Coast Guard has captured nearly $400 million worth of cocaine and marijuana, with 10 different crews responsible for the numerous seizures of approximately 27,300 pounds of seized cocaine (worth an estimated $367 million) and 11,000 pounds of seized marijuana (worth an estimated $10.1 million).
Officials said the contraband was intercepted in 18 separate operations of suspected drug smuggling vessels, in international waters of the Caribbean Basin and Easter Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America.
The Coast Guard offloaded the contraband at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale Monday morning. A video posted on the Southeast division’s Twitter page shows the drugs wrapped up in bundles and stacked on pallets.
At the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James. This is how 28,000 pounds of interdicted cocaine look like.
Stand by for our Facebook live press event. pic.twitter.com/Xr2DiOjJMI
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) October 28, 2019
In a press release, Captain Jeffrey Randall, the Coast Guard Cutter James commanding officer, praised the efforts of the US Coast Guard – particularly the Coast Guard Cutter James crew, who offloaded the seized drugs.
These drugs will not reach Main Street USA due to the efforts of the James crew and other Coast Guard cutters involved in these interdictions.
The commanding officer added the James crew conducted counter-drug operations ‘with the cooperative efforts with regional partner nations, like Columbia, Costa Rica and alongside the agencies involved in Operation Martillo to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States.’
Subsequently, because of this cooperative effort, Captain Randall said ‘we maintain an offensive against criminal networks and criminal organisations.’
The operation took around six to eight weeks.
“It’s pretty exciting to see it all stacked up in one spot and see the effects of the work that went into this,” said Officer John Groen.
Officials said the cocaine seized has an estimated street value of $367 million, and the marijuana is worth $10.1 million.
All of it was laid out on the USCG Cutter James.
“The crew of James, operating in the dark of night and under challenging conditions, drove our boats, flew our helicopters to interdict drug smugglers operating in a variety of vessels,” Randall said.
The Colombian Navy was also present at the press conference.
“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,” said Rear Admiral Jose Jauquin Amezquita Garcia, head of naval planning with the Colombian Navy.
Coast Guard officials thanked their international partners for their help with the drug bust.
“Through this cooperative effort that continues to grow and strengthen collective ability, we maintain the offensive against criminal networks and drug trafficking organizations,” Randall said.