The U.S. Coast Guard unloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of seized pot and more than 3,000 pounds of cocaine in Port Everglades, Florida on Thursday, with a U.S. congressperson and the media on hand to observe the work. The Coast Guard estimated the street value of the load at $62.5 million. The drugs had been confiscated in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean by the personnel of three United States vessels in five separate interdiction operations off the coasts of Central America, Mexico, and South America. The illicit cargo was delivered Thursday morning to the port by the Virginia-based Coast Guard Cutter Bear.
“I could not be prouder of this crew’s accomplishments, and of the entire interagency and allied team that continue to stand the watch in an effort to stem the efforts of smugglers that seek to destabilize the Western hemisphere while they line their pockets,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Dennelly, Executive Officer of Coast Guard Cutter Bear.
The Bear was responsible for two of the seizures that made up the offloaded drugs, seizing about 7,900 pounds of weed and 300 pounds of cocaine. The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant, in a single case, confiscated about 2,700 pounds of cocaine. A Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team aboard the Navy ship USS Tornado seized approximately 6,100 pounds of cannabis and 660 pounds of cocaine in two separate interdiction cases. Both the Valiant and the Tornado are home-ported in Jacksonville, Florida.
Pot Seized Through Multi-Agency Effort
The drugs were intercepted by the Coast Guard with the cooperation of other federal agencies, according to Dennelly.
“It is through successful interdictions, such as the ones we are offloading today, that impact these criminal organizations, regardless of the product they are smuggling. It is certainly a team effort with contributions by our Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations partners, Department of Defense, and other DHS partners that make today’s offload possible,” he said.
The Coast Guard has intercepted more than 1.3 million pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $18 billion in the last three years. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from New York, praised the work of the Coast Guard at a press conference at Port Everglades. Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has regulatory authority over the Coast Guard and other federal agencies.
“These are difficult and dangerous missions that they make look routine, but that involve real sacrifice and real risk to them and we need to remind ourselves of that,” he said.