Coast Guard offloads approximately 18 tons of cocaine in San Diego

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, homported in Alameda, California, forms along side approximately 18 tons of cocaine at 10th Ave Marine Terminal in San Diego on June 15, 2017. The narcotics were seized during 18 seperate interdictions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean from March 2017 through June 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Davonte Marrow/Released)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, homported in Alameda, California, forms along side approximately 18 tons of cocaine on June 15, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Davonte Marrow)

SAN DIEGO – The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche offloaded approximately 18 tons of cocaine in San Diego, Thursday.

Several U.S. Coast Guard cutters seized the cocaine in 18 interdictions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean from March 2017 through June 2017.

“Our nation faces significant threats posed by transnational organized crime networks that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said Capt. James Passarelli, commanding officer of Waesche. “The crew of Waesche meets those threats head on as far from the U.S. border as possible.”

The drugs, intercepted in international waters off the coast of Central and South America by crews of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Waesche, Hamilton, Mohawk, Dependable, Valiant, Active, Campbell and Confidence were offloaded at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.

The load represents 15 interdictions of suspected drug smuggling vessels, known as pangas, and three cases of seized bales of cocaine dumped by suspected smugglers. Waesche was responsible for seven cases, seizing approximately 17,619 pounds. Valiant was responsible for three cases, seizing an estimated 5,346 pounds. Hamilton was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 4,116 pounds. Confidence was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 3,712 pounds. Active was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 2,215 pounds. Mohawk was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 2,136 pounds. Dependable was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 2,204 pounds. Campbell was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 1,766 pounds.

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. During Fiscal Year 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard seized more than 416,600 pounds of cocaine and took 585 suspected smugglers into custody from the Eastern Pacific.

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play an important role in counter-drug operations. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in California, on the East Coast, and in the Caribbean.

Transnational organized crime groups are vying for control of illicit trafficking routes and power in numerous Latin American countries, resulting in increased violence and instability. This has led to record high homicide rates in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean with eight of the 10 countries with the highest homicide rates in the world in this region.

Overall surveillance and counter-smuggling patrols in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean are coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South, an element of U.S. Southern Command headquartered in Florida, that executes detection and monitoring of illicit trafficking across all domains and facilitates international and interagency coordination to interdict, disrupt, and dismantle threat networks. The law enforcement phase of the counter-drug mission in the Eastern Pacific occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda.

Waesche is a 418-foot National Security Cutter homeported in Alameda, California. Valiant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Jacksonville, Florida. Hamilton is a 418-foot National Security Cutter homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. Confidence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Florida. Active is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Port Angeles, Washington. Mohawk is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Florida. Dependable is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Campbell is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


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