Seizures of 17 different drug-smuggling vessels off the shores of Central and South America, and Mexico led to the offloading of 12 tons of cocaine and 1 ton of marijuana at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on April 24, 2018. According to officials, the seized drugs have a total wholesale value of nearly $390 million and a street value of almost $1 billion.
The seizures were made by Coast Guard Cutter Reliance, Legare, Steadfast, Dependable, Decisive and Harriet Lane in co-operation with Canadian Navy HMCS Edmonton and HMCS Whitehorse and the Mexican government.
As per Cmdr. Jonathan Carter, the commanding officer of Legare, the boats used for smuggling the drugs were specifically designed to dupe the authorities by staying low in water and showing only six inches above water. Six of the 11 accused men from Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica have been brought to the U.S. Carter said, “Today’s offload sends them a message that our network of partners and allies remains resolute in our commitment to stem the flow of illicit trafficking that breeds instability.”
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Drug busts are risky but prevent human suffering
Once offloaded, the seized drugs are sent to a federal lab for testing, while some drugs are kept as evidence for trials while the remainder gets destroyed. As per Carter, seizing huge amounts of drugs can be a hazardous job that is often done at night and may involve gunfire at times.
In March 2018, the USCG officers had offloaded roughly 36,000 pounds of cocaine into a California pier. The drugs seized during 17 different operations by Coast Guard vessels in the Pacific Ocean were estimated to be worth around $500 million. The operation was part of the “Western Hemisphere Strategy” executed in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean, areas believed to be the drug-transit zones. CGC Bertholf was aided in its efforts by the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. According to Capt. John Driscoll, Bertholf’s commanding officer, hunting down such nefarious activities saves many lives and prevents many others from undergoing the suffering.
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