The US Coast Guard offloaded approximately 36,000 pounds of cocaine Tuesday, which was seized during a counter-drug patrol in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The contraband offloaded represents 17 interdictions of suspected smuggling vessels off the coasts of Central and South America by five USCG cutters, between early February and early March.
In particular, the 17 different interdictions involved:
- the USCG cutter ‘Venturous’, one case, estimated 2,877 pounds.
- the USCG cutter ‘Bear’, three cases, estimated 9,016 pounds.
- the USCG cutter ‘Diligence’, three cases, estimated 3,902 pounds.
- the USCG cutter ‘Bertholf’, four cases, estimated 5,103 pounds.
- the USCG cutter ‘Harriet Lane’, six cases, estimated 15,434 pounds.
Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, the 11th Coast Guard District commander, who oversees the law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific region, stated:
This offload by the ‘Bertholf’ represents the great work being conducted in the Eastern Pacific combating the transnational organized crime groups, behind the drug trade which spread instability, fear and harm to people, communities and entire nations.
As part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy, the USCG has increased its presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug-transit zones off of Central and South America.
In addition to Coast Guard crews, numerous US agencies from the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense and Justice, along with allied and international partners agencies, are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime in the region.
According to the US Coast Guard Pacific Area, drug cartels and their networks smuggle more than 97% of cocaine bound for the US and Canada. Earlier in 2018, USCG’s counter-drug operations revealed a new tactic in how drug cartels are transporting the drugs close to shore, with new low-profile fast boats that are designed to evade radar.
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