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Six tons of seized cocaine, worth $170 million, arrives at Port Everglades

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC-908) offloaded approximately 6 tons of cocaine that was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The cocaine was offloaded Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 in Port Everglades, Florida.

BRENT SARGENT/U.S. COAST GUARD

By WAYNE K. ROUSTAN | Sun Sentinel | Published: September 18, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — An estimated 12,000 pounds of cocaine arrived in Fort Lauderdale Monday — but it won’t be making its way to the streets of South Florida, the U.S. or anywhere else.

The drugs, valued at more than $170 million, were seized from six boats in the eastern Pacific Ocean and were offloaded at Port Everglades, Coast Guard officials said.

The Coast Guard Cutters Tahoma, Tampa and Seneca intercepted the six suspected smuggling vessels between late July and August. There was no immediate word on the number of related arrests.

"The countless hours and long days spent by our crews to stop these illegal smuggling operations is the embodiment of devotion to duty,” Tahoma Cmdr. Michael Sarnowski said in a statement.

Port Everglades is a frequent destination for Coast Guard drug seizures.

  • More than seven tons of cocaine worth $211 million were offloaded Aug.9
  • Some six tons of cocaine worth an estimated $180 million came in May 10
  • About 12 tons of cocaine and one ton of marijuana valued at $400 million arrived April 24
  • More than seven tons of cocaine worth about $190 million was brought in Feb. 13

The agency has also offloaded drugs at other ports in Florida and around the U.S. in order to mark successes in the effort to disrupt the international drug trade.

Typically, a small amount of drugs are preserved for purposes of legal evidence while the rest is turned over to federal authorities to be destroyed.

The Coast Guard increased the U.S. and allied presence in the Caribbean Basin and eastern Pacific Ocean as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy because they are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America.

During at-sea interdictions in international waters, 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.

U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations.

“It is critical that our Coast Guard crews and partner agencies work persistently in ensuring these illegal drugs are stopped from coming to the streets of the United States,” Sarnowski said.

wkroustan@sunsentinel.com

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