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Coast Guard crew offloads $78M in drugs in San Diego

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Active, a 210-foot medium endurance Reliance-class cutter homeported in Port Angeles, Washington,  interdicts more than 1 ton of cocaine from four suspected drug smugglers during a counter-narcotics patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Friday, May 18, 2018.

MICHAEL DE NYSE/U.S. COAST GUARD

By LYNDSAY WINKLEY | The San Diego Union-Tribune | Published: May 29, 2018

(Tribune News Service) — A U.S. Coast Guard crew offloaded on Tuesday more than $78 million worth of cocaine in San Diego, just a portion of the drugs seized during patrols off the coast of Central America this month, an official said.

The 5,271 pounds of drugs were moved from a Coast Guard cutter onto the cruise ship terminal at B Street about 6:15 a.m.

The cocaine was seized during back-to-back interdictions on May 18 and May 19 as part of a larger operation in the region, a federal official said.

All told, the Coast Guard crew discovered three panga-style vessels and one pleasure craft, resulting in the seizure of drugs valued at $95 million. The crew also arrested 11 suspected drug smugglers.

The Coast Guard vessel used in the operation, a medium endurance cutter called the Active, is 53 years old — more than a decade older than its expected 40-year service life.

“The crew of Active should be proud of all they’ve accomplished to combat dangerous transnational criminal organizations that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, in a news release. “Their ability to complete the mission on this aging platform is a testament their abilities as cuttermen and devotion to duty as Coast Guard women and men.”

Although medium endurance cutters are slated to be replaced by newer vessel called offshore patrol cutters, crews on the aging boats seized nearly a third of the drugs seized by the U.S. Coast Guard in fiscal year 2017.

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