The US Coast Guard's apparently been busy this March. It announced on Twitter this week that following a series of major drug raids over the last 26 days, it was offloading 16 tons of seized cocaine at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The massive haul is worth an estimated $420 million wholesale and $1 billion on the street, according to reports from the local news station WSVN.
The haul and accompanying press conference resulted from an extended mission in the international waters of the Eastern Pacific and a collaboration between the Coast Guard, Canadian forces, and partners at other agencies. According to a news release, they engaged in 17 separate interceptions of ships suspected of smuggling drugs from Central to South America.
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Per the news conference, the Coast Guard was able to accomplish this thanks in part to the new Coast Guard cutter ship James and the HITRON -- or Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron -- a unit specially designated to accomplish interception missions like these. James and HITRON took five of the missions and seized 5.19 tons of cocaine.
Coast Guard officials said at least 30 suspected drug smugglers will face charges as a result of the operation. US Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor laid out the stakes and details of the mission at a news conference Tuesday morning at Port Everglades, where Coast Guard officials stood next to heaping bales of drugs on the docks.
“To look at those bales as just cocaine is short-sighted,” Fedor said. “When those smugglers are racing across the Caribbean or the Pacific, they’re just not carrying cocaine. They’re delivering violence, corruption and instability to a part of the world -- the Western hemisphere -- that just can’t absorb it.”