Officials from the U.S. and Canada welcomed back a U.S. Coast Guard cutter with more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine on Thursday as allied forces set record drug seizure rates in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships have seized more cocaine in the last six months than in all of fiscal year 2014. U.S. and allied forces operating in the Eastern Pacific Ocean near Central and South America have seized more than 56,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $848 million and apprehended more than 101 suspected smugglers. Fiscal year 2015, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, is already the most successful year in U.S. counter drug operations in the Eastern Pacific since 2009.
The crew of the Cutter Boutwell returned to San Diego with more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $424 million seized in 19 separate interdictions by U.S. and Canadian forces in drug transit zones near Central and South America. Coast Guard boarding teams operating from numerous Coast Guard cutters and U.S. Navy and Royal Canadian Navy vessels made the seizures.
Boutwell’s crew offloaded evidence from an 11,000-pound seizure from a coastal freighter in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, which was executed by crews from the Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Teams based in Miami and San Diego, USS Gary and Cutter Boutwell from Naval Base San Diego, and HMCS Whitehorse from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, Canada. This is the single largest maritime drug interdiction in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since 2009.
This is the second major offload from Cutter Boutwell in six months. The crew of Cutter Boutwell turned over 28,000 pounds of cocaine, worth more than $423 million wholesale, over to DEA agents in October 2014.