The Coast Guard Cutter James brought in a record haul Thursday at Port Everglades, Florida, offloading nearly 60,000 pounds of cocaine and more than 1,400 pounds of marijuana. The drugs were worth more than $1.4 billion, according to the Coast Guard.
“It was the largest offload in Coast Guard history,” officials said in a media release.
Coast Guard officials credited the offload to its “strong international relationships, with key partners like Canada and the Netherlands, along with our specialized capabilities and unmatched authorities, allow for a unity of effort to disrupt transnational crime organizations, which threaten America and our partner nations.
“Today’s offload is a result of our combined efforts of our inter-agency partners and a dedicated international coalition,” said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Commander Atlantic Area, in the release, posted on the Coast Guard website. “The Canadian government and Canadian Defence Forces brings an incredible capability in defeating transnational organized crime, and I’m grateful to HMCS Shawinigan to showcase Canada’s commitment. Together we will disrupt, defeat and degrade transnational organized crime. We will strengthen our efforts and continue to build collaboration and capability.”
The drugs were interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Sea, the Coast Guard said. They were seized and recovered during 27 interdictions of suspected drug smuggling vessels by 10 American, Dutch and Canadian ships.
During such interdictions, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida, the Coast Guard said. 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 interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.