7 tons of cocaine intercepted by Coast Guard

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton crew stand next to approximately seven tons of cocaine Feb. 13, 2017 aboard the cutter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded the cocaine in Port Everglades worth an estimated $190 million wholesale value.


By JOE CAVARETTA | Sun Sentinel | Published: February 13, 2018

Traffickers continue to use the eastern Pacific Ocean as a transit route for drugs and the U.S. Coast Guard — and other international agencies — continue to pursue and catch them.

The estimated 14,000 pounds of cocaine that arrived at Port Everglades Tuesday morning aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton is the result of seven recent busts of suspected drug smuggling boats, officials said.

The offloaded drugs have a wholesale value of about $190 million and were seized by five different Coast Guard crews in international waters off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America, according to the agency.

The Hamilton, Northland, Diligence, Venturous and Harriet Lane were the cutters involved in the interdictions.

The effort to interrupt drug trafficking in the eastern Pacific involves numerous U.S. agencies teaming up with international partners to locate, track and ultimately board vessels suspected of carrying drugs.

“It truly is a team effort stopping these drugs from entering the United States,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, the Hamilton’s commanding officer.

In recent years, the Coast Guard has made it a regular practice to showcase the offloading of seized drugs at various ports in Florida and elsewhere in order to emphasize the ongoing effort to deter narco-traffickers.

The agency’s efforts have been noticed by some people with a stake in public health.

“We value the courageous and heroic work to stop these drugs from entering our country. We honor the work of interdiction and law enforcement alongside prevention and recovery to keep our communities safe,” said Gonzalo Cadima, director of the United Way of Broward County’s Commission on Behavioral Health and Drug Prevention.

More than two dozen people connected to the alleged drug smuggling have been detained, officials said. Eighteen were brought to the U.S. while the others were taken to another country.

The seized drugs will be tested by federal authorities and then given to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to be processed for evidence before being disposed.

©2018 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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