Coast Guard boats seize $721 million worth of cocaine since November

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Members of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship NANAIMO transfer cocaine bales seized from a suspected smuggling vessel in collaboration with a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment during Operation CARIBBE on November 22, 2017. (Credit:: MARPAC Imaging Services)

SAN DIEGO  — U.S. Coast Guard boats have seized 47,000 pounds of cocaine in the Pacific since November — most of it off the coasts of Central and South America.

The massive amount of drugs was displayed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton on Thursday in San Diego before it was unloaded. Officials say the drugs seized during 23 separate incidents are worth more than $721 million.

“The threat of transnational organized crime is a danger no one ship, agency, country or person can address alone,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “We stand alongside our interagency and international partners resolved in a shared purpose to protect those harmed by these dangerous drugs and bring the criminals who smuggle them to justice.”

Midgette, the Pacific area commander, says most of it came off smaller vessels that smugglers are increasingly using to avoid detection.

The Coast Guard has broken cocaine seizure records for the past two years, taking in more than 227 tons of cocaine during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Still, Midgette says he believes that represents only fraction of the illegal sea shipments.