Almost half a billion in cocaine seized by Coast Guard – $466 million – 34,780 pounds: Attention Cokeheads! prices are going up! Might be a good time for rehab!

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The crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Forward (WMEC-911) and Hamilton (WMSL-753) conducted multiple at-sea drug interdictions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard videos courtesy of Coast Guard Cutters Forward and Hamilton

MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC-911) is scheduled to offload approximately 34,780 pounds of cocaine Tuesday in Port Everglades worth an estimated $466 million wholesale seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard Cutter Forward sits moored at Base Support Unit Portsmouth just before sunrise Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009. Behind the Forward are two other 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters homeported at the base, the cutters Legare and Bear. In total there are six of these cutters sharing the same responsibilities, allowing their crews to enjoy a two-month inport period and a two-month deployment period. Some of those responsibilities include: Search and Rescue; Enforcement of Laws and Treaties; Maritime Defense; and Protection of the Marine Environment. They most often deploy between the Coasts of Maine and Florida and throughout the Caribbean, but at times cross the Atlantic or visit the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/PA2 Andrew Kendrick)

The drugs were interdicted off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by multiple U.S. Coast Guard cutters.

A Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC-911) boat-crew recovers multiple bales of cocaine, which totaled approximately 2,535 pounds, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 nearly 69 miles southwest of Malpelo Island, Colombia. The bales were jettisoned from a suspected drug smuggling vessel with three suspected smugglers aboard. U. S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Forward

The offload represents 21 separate, suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions by the Coast Guard:

  • The cutter Forward was responsible for eight cases seizing an estimated 14,207 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL-753) was responsible for five cases, seizing an estimated 9,460 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Campbell (WMEC-909) was responsible for four cases, seizing an estimated 6,153 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Alert (WMEC-630) was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 5,736 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Venturous (WMEC-625) was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 1,565 pounds of cocaine.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Confidence (WMEC-619) was responsible for one case seizing an estimated 553 pounds of cocaine.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC-911) interdicts a suspected drug smuggling vessel approximately 242 miles southeast of Galapagos Islands, Ecuador Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 with approximately 1,768 pounds of cocaine hidden under the deck of the vessel. The cutter crew also interdicted one suspected drug smuggler. U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.

“The interdiction and disruption of more than 17 tons of cocaine is a result of the collaboration and coordination of multiple Coast Guard and interagency assets to address the complex maritime challenge of Transnational Criminal Organizations,” said Cmdr. Michael Sharp, commanding officer of the cutter Forward. “I am extremely proud of all the women and men that contributed to the mission success, it is a direct reflection of how the U.S. Coast Guard delivers mission excellence anytime, anywhere.” 

The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District headquartered in Alameda, California.

Boarding team from Coast Guard Cutter Forward puts the brakes on a Go Fast with 90 bales of cocaine Dec. 15, 2018.
A Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC-911) boarding team located 90 bales of cocaine aboard a low profile go-fast vessel Saturday Dec. 15, 2018 approximately 273 miles northwest of Manta, Ecuador. The cutter Forward crew interdicted a low profile go-fast vessel, which resulted in a seizure of approximately 3,968 pounds of cocaine and the detainment of three suspected drug smugglers. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Forward

The cutter Forward is a 27-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The cutter Hamilton is a 418-foot national security cutter homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. The cutter Campbell is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The cutter Alert is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Astoria, Oregon. The cutter Venturous is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida. The cutter Confidence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Florida.

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