US Coast Guard intercepts $5 million of cocaine in two hits

Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Alligator prepare to offload approximately 150 kilograms of cocaine at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Florida on July 18. Photo: US Navy

The U.S. Coast Guard has offloaded approximately $5 million worth of cocaine seized during two separate interdictions in the Caribbean Sea as part of Operation Unified Resolve.

About 150 kilograms of the contraband was offloaded Monday, July 18, at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

In one case, Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 407 aboard the USS Shamal, a 179-foot U.S. Navy patrol coastal ship based in Mayport, located a 47-foot sailboat in the Caribbean Sea.

Shamal then launched a 23-foot Coast Guard cutter boat to board the sailboat. Coast Guard law enforcement team members recovered 75 kilograms of jettisoned contraband, which later tested positive for cocaine. The two suspects aboard the sailboat were taken into custody.

Later, the Shamal, with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 407 still aboard, interdicted a go-fast boat with two people aboard in the southwest Caribbean. The boarding team located three bales weighing approximately 75 kilograms. The contraband tested positive for cocaine, and the suspected drug smugglers were taken into custody.

“These seizures highlight the effectiveness of the ongoing joint and coordinated efforts between the Coast Guard and our partner agencies,” said Coast Guard Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alligator transferred four suspected smugglers to U.S. authorities for prosecution by the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Operation Unified Resolve is a coordinated effort among the Coast Guard and its Department of Homeland Security partners intended to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We are unified in our commitment with our local partners to stem the flow of illicit trafficking destined for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to help reverse the upward trend in the record number of drug-related homicides and violent crime.

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