The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard ship that seized 5,600 pounds (2,540 kilos) of cocaine and arrested five smugglers in September this year are set to return home to San Diego where they will offload the contraband on October 27.
With the assistance of a U.S. Navy aircraft, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche from California, intercepted a drug smuggling self-propelled semisubmersible in the Pacific Ocean off Central America on September 6. The semi-sub was laden with more than $73 million worth of cocaine.
Coast Guardsmen from Waesche launched two pursuit vessels with boarding teams and an armed helicopter crew to interdict the SPSS. Five suspects were removed from the SPSS and were apprehended by Coast Guardsmen.
The suspected smugglers apparently attempted to scuttle the SPSS as water filled the smuggling vessel to just below the helm. Two Waesche crewmembers boarded the SPSS and began dewatering the vessel, which reduced the water level enough to allow boarding officers to safely remove over 5,600 pounds of cocaine from the SPSS.
The video below shows the Waesche crew during the dewatering efforts.
This seizure was part of more than 416,600 pounds of cocaine worth over $5.6 billion that has been intercepted by the Coast Guard in Fiscal Year 2016, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016.
“With every interdiction, we learn more about transnational organized crime networks that generate profit and proliferate power from a laundry list of illicit activities,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Coast Guard men and women not only keep drugs off U.S. streets, but they combat the influence of these criminal networks that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere.”