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Coast Guard boarding team engages in firefight

Sep. 27, 2010 - 01:43PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 27, 2010 - 01:43PM  |  
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A boarding team from the medium endurance cutter Escanaba got in a shootout with suspected drug smugglers while attempting to board a vessel in international waters near the coast of Nicaragua Sept. 14, the service said in a statement.

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A boarding team from the medium endurance cutter Escanaba got in a shootout with suspected drug smugglers while attempting to board a vessel in international waters near the coast of Nicaragua Sept. 14, the service said in a statement.

The Coast Guardsmen were perusing a go-fast vessel in Escanaba's over-the-horizon small boat and were closing in when the suspects began shooting at the team. The Escanaba's crew members immediately returned fire while the coxswain began evasive maneuvering and continued the chase, according to the Coast Guard statement.

The suspected smugglers then entered Nicaraguan waters, and the boarding team lost contact with them.

No Coast Guardsmen were injured and the boat sustained no damage, the service said.

The incident serves as a reminder of the "ruthless nature of smugglers, the disregard they have for human life and the dangers [the Coast Guard's] men and women face enforcing laws and treaties on the high seas," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, the service's chief spokesman.

O'Neil said any further details were still under review.

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