Coast Guard offloads 11 tons of cocaine in San Diego

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sherman guards pallets of cocaine prior to offloading them at Naval Base San Diego on August 18, 2016. Approximately 11 tons were offloaded after being seized in the Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joel Guzman/released)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sherman guards pallets of cocaine prior to offloading them at Naval Base San Diego on August 18, 2016.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joel Guzman)

SAN DIEGO – The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sherman offloaded approximately 11 tons of cocaine at Naval Base San Diego, Thursday.

Several U.S. Coast Guard cutters seized a combined total of approximately 11 tons of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean from mid-June through July.

The drugs, interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central and South America by crews of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Alert, Reliance, Sherman, Tampa, and Vigorous were offloaded Thursday at Naval Base San Diego from the Sherman.

The load represents 15 separate interdictions of suspected drug smuggling “go-fast” vessels, or pangas, by Coast Guard crews.

The Alert was responsible for four cases, seizing an estimated 6,500 pounds. Reliance was responsible for three cases, seizing an estimated 5,000 pounds.  Sherman handled two cases resulting in the seizure of an estimated 2,800 pounds.  Tampa was responsible for three cases, seizing an estimated 4,400 pounds, and Vigorous was responsible for three, seizing an estimated 3,400 pounds.

“Our crews’ law enforcement expertise and dedication in a challenging, complex environment resulted in this series of impressive drug busts,” said Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District. “The diligence of these cutter crews, as well as the air crews and operations support crews ashore, has stopped tons of drugs from reaching our streets. Their success disrupts the violent criminal organizations that ship these drugs and saves lives here at home.”

Combating transnational organized crime networks, from which the illegal drug trade stems, is of paramount importance to the national security of the U.S., and is a mission in which the Coast Guard and partner agencies are heavily engaged. Since fiscal year 2016 began in October the U.S. Coast Guard has seized more than 81 tons of cocaine and taken 329 suspected smugglers into custody in 108 interdictions in the Eastern Pacific.

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