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VIDEO: Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf crews interdict suspected low-profile go-fast drug-smuggling vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) will return to the cutter’s homeport after offloading more than 18,000 pounds of cocaine, worth more than an estimated $312 million.

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SAN DIEGO — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) is scheduled to offload approximately 18,000 pounds of cocaine Wednesday seized from known drug-transit zones of the Eastern Pacific Ocean worth approximately $312 million.

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Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) boarding teams interdict a low-profile go-fast vessel while patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, seizing more than 3,100 pounds of suspected cocaine, Nov. 4, 2019. Purpose-built vessels like this are designed to smuggle large amounts of contraband while evading detection by law enforcement personnel due to their camouflaged appearance and low profile. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Krug.

The interdictions were made between mid-October and early December by the joint efforts of the following five separate Coast Guard cutter crews:

  • Northland (WMEC 904) was responsible for one case seizing 3,328 pounds
  • James (WMSL 754) was responsible for one case seizing 1,609 pounds
  • Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) was responsible for one case seizing 5,037 pounds
  • Thetis (WMEC 910) was responsible for one case seizing 2,394 pounds
  • Bertholf was responsible for three cases seizing 5,851 pounds

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated 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 drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in districts across the nation.

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During at-sea interdictions, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Northland is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The James is a 418-foot national security cutter homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. The Harriet Lane is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth. The Thetis is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West. The Bertholf is a 418-foot national security cutter homeported in Alameda.

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) boarding teams interdict a low-profile go-fast vessel while patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, seizing more than 3,100 pounds of suspected cocaine, Nov. 4, 2019. Purpose-built vessels like this are designed to smuggle large amounts of contraband while evading detection by law enforcement personnel due to their camouflaged appearance and low profile. U.S. Coast Guard video.

THIS IS ONE LOAD OF COCAINE THAT WON’T BE SHIPPED ACROSS i-70 TO THE EAST COAST IN SUV’s

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) boarding teams interdict a suspected drug-smuggling vessel while patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Nov. 27, 2019. The crew seized nearly 1,000 pounds of suspected cocaine during the interdiction. U.S. Coast Guard video.

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) crew members use a crane and cargo net to transfer bales of contraband from Bertholf’s 35-foot Long-Range Interceptor boat to the cutter following an at-sea interdiction of a low-profile go-fast vessel during Bertholf’s patrol to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Nov. 4, 2019. Bertholf’s boarding teams seized more than 3,100 pounds of suspected cocaine during the interdiction. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Krug.

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