Coast Guard offloads $92 million worth of smuggled cocaine in San Diego
By JACLYN COSGROVE | Los Angeles Times | Published: October 17, 2019
(Tribune News Service) — The Coast Guard offloaded more than 6,800 pounds of cocaine — worth an estimated $92 million — in San Diego on Wednesday, contraband that the military branch seized in international waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Between late July and early October, crews from three Coast Guard cutters, a term used to describe a Coast Guard vessel at least 65 feet long, intercepted the drugs from four suspected smuggling vessels off Mexico and Central and South America.
The crew aboard the cutter Alert was responsible for two cases, seizing about 4,000 pounds of cocaine, according to the Coast Guard. Alert is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter based in Astoria, Ore.
The crew on Robert Ward, a 154-foot fast-response cutter based in San Pedro, seized about 1,500 pounds of cocaine during one incident. Seneca, a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter based in Boston, seized about 1,400 pounds of cocaine in one case.
"The eastern Pacific Ocean is a challenging environment, especially on a ship that is in her 50th year of service, yet this crew persevered to disrupt the illegal flow of narcotics that fuels instability in Central and South America," Cmdr. Tyson Scofield, Alert's commanding officer, said in a statement. "The counter-drug mission is as important now as it has ever been, and these brave men and women can return home after a 69-day patrol knowing they made a difference."
The Coast Guard said in a news release that it has increased the U.S. and allied presence in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere strategy.
During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard.