Coast Guard and Navy Offload 15 Tons of Cocaine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Military personnel from the Coast Guard and Navy handed over 30,000 pounds of cocaine with an import value of approximately $400 million to federal agents today at 12 p.m.

The cocaine was offloaded from the USS McInerney (FFG-8) after it was seized in two separate busts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean Feb. 4 and March 1.

The first bust occurred Feb. 4 by the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton from a go-fast traveling in the Eastern Pacific. The go-fast was stopped by the Jacksonville-based Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron. HITRON’s precision gunner shot the engines of the fleeing go-fast until they would no longer run. A law enforcement crew from the Hamilton seized 41 bales of cocaine from the boat and detained five suspected smugglers.

The second bust occurred March 1 when a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment from Tactical Law Enforcement Team South from Miami aboard the McInerney boarded the merchant vessel Ocean Song. The Coast Guard law enforcement team found 457 bales of cocaine in the ship’s cargo hold. The Miami based law enforcement team took nine suspected smugglers into custody.

Both cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District Florida.

Recently, the Coast Guard set a record for the most cocaine removed for the first quarter of a fiscal year. From Oct. 1, 2006, until Jan.1, 2007, the Coast Guard removed 97,635 pounds of the drug, eclipsing the previous high of 76,925 pounds set during the first quarter of last year.

The cocaine seized to date in fiscal year 2007 exceeds the yearly totals of all but three of the last 15 fiscal years.

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