US Coast Guard ship returns to port with 14 tons of cocaine

USCGC Bertholf crewmembers offload approximately 14 tons of cocaine, April 7, 2016, in San Diego. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter offloaded more than 14 tons of cocaine April 7, at San Diego’s Broadway Pier.

The drugs were seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean drug transit zone off the coast of Central and South America.

The haul represented 13 vessel interdictions and one bale recovery between late January and early March by the Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf and Valiant, and the USS Lassen with a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment aboard.

Of the 14 interdictions represented in the offload, Bertholf was responsible for six, the largest being approximately 6.4 tons discovered aboard a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel intercepted on March 3. You can watch the video of the operation here.

Valiant also nabbed six suspected smuggling vessels, and the Lassen, with its embarked Coast Guard LEDET, stopped one suspected smuggling vessel and also recovered approximately 1,500 pounds of cocaine bales found floating in the region.

“Taking tons of deadly drugs off the street and apprehending dozens of suspected smugglers not only saves lives here at home, but it also disrupts the efforts of international drug trafficking organizations who spread violence and instability wherever they operate,” said Rear Admiral Joseph Servidio, commander, 11th Coast Guard District.

Coast Guardsmen operating from cutters, U.S. Navy ships and international partner nation ships seized more than 158,000 pounds (71,6 tonnes) of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific drug traffic zone in fiscal year 2015 — more than the totals in 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime including the Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, DEA, and ICE. Allied and international partner agencies play an important 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 California, on the East Coast, and in the Caribbean.

Transnational organized crime groups are vying for control of illicit trafficking routes and power in numerous Latin American countries, resulting in increased violence and instability. This has led to record high homicide rates in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean; 8 of the 10 countries with the highest homicide rates in the world are in this region.

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