US Coast Guard brings 6 tons of cocaine to Florida

USCGC James crew takes a moment for a group photo before offloading in Port Everglades Thursday, May 10, 2018. Photo: US Coast Guard

The crew of US Coast Guard cutter James offloaded approximately 6 tons of cocaine in Port Everglades on Thursday, worth an estimated $180 million.

The narcotics were seized in multiple interceptions in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The interdictions took place off the coasts of Central and South America, and Mexico and were made by three Coast Guard cutters between late February and mid-April.

USCGC Bertholf was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 1,653 pounds of cocaine. USCGC Bear was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 6,029 pounds of cocaine. USCGC James was responsible for three cases, seizing an estimated 4,313 pounds of cocaine.

“The James deployed to the eastern Pacific Ocean for a 20-day period and interdicted over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine from three separate vessels reflecting the significant amount of illicit contraband heading towards the United States on a daily basis,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, commanding officer the cutter James. “The US Coast Guard works with other US agencies and law enforcement officials from partner nations in the region resulting in the seizure of thousands kilograms of cocaine every year. Each successful interdiction is another successful step towards protecting our respective borders and citizens from the rising threat of transnational criminal organizations.”

The Coast Guard increased the US and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel.

The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by US Coast Guardsmen. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District headquartered in Alameda, California.

The cutter James is a 418-foot national security cutter homeported in North Charleston, South Carolina.

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