The U. S. Customs and Border Patrol officers in addition to Coast Guard personnel prepare to offload the cocaine from the Coast Guard Cutter James, Tuesday, March 28, 2016, in the Port of port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
(Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
The officials of the U. S. Coast Guard unveiled the result of a series of enormous drug busts over a 26-day period at a Florida port Tuesday that netted 16 tons of cocaine.
The seized cocaine has an estimated value of $420 million, the officials said at a press conference in Port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The drugs have a street value of more than $1 billion, WSVN reported.
The almost month-long mission in the international waters of the Eastern Pacific ocean, which included the U.S. coast guard, Canadian and reactions of partners, involved 17 separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interceptions along Central and South America, the agency said in a press release.
The Coast Guard cutter James and HITRON aviation unit were only responsible for five drug interceptions, which seized with an estimated 5.19 tonnes of cocaine. The new cutter James carries a helicopter and boats that you can run from the back quickly.
#happeningnow Offload of 16 tons of cocaine by @USCG Cutter James & Helicopter Ban tactical squadron #nodrugs pic.twitter.com/9Ug8fNKrIt
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) 28 March 2017
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“I am extremely proud of the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter James and us started HITRON aviation detachment for a very successful first patrol,” said Vice-Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of coast guard Atlantic Area in a statement. “Our continued maritime presence in the drug trafficking areas of cutters as James, allows us to keep bulk quantities of drugs at sea, the prevention of criminal networks, illicit cargo from reaching the coasts of Central America, country-routes in the United States.”
During the mission, seven ships were detained and at least 30 smugglers were in custody during the mission, the officials said.
U. S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor pointed out the dangers to crew during the mission.
“To look at those bales as only cocaine, is short-sighted,” Fedor said. “When the smugglers are racing in the Caribbean or the Pacific, they simply are not carrying cocaine. They are the supply of violence, corruption and instability of a part of the world – the Western hemisphere – that just can’t absorb.”
Read more WSVN.com.