Coast Guard offloads approximately $19 million of cocaine

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak, homeported in Miami, offloaded approximately $19 million estimated wholesale value of cocaine Thursday at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

The cocaine was seized in support of Operation Martillo.

During a patrol on October 27, a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment team aboard the Royal Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Amsterdam detected a 26-foot go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea. After observing suspicious packages onboard the go-fast, the LEDET deployed a boatcrew to investigate.

Twenty bales of cocaine are shown at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak, homeported in Miami, transported the $19 million estimated wholesale value of contraband to the sector after it was seized in the Caribbean Sea in support of Operation Martillo. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Crystalynn A. Kneen

Twenty bales of cocaine are shown at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Crystalynn A. Kneen

Upon arriving on scene, the LEDET boarded the vessel and seized 20 bales which later tested positive for cocaine.

The two suspected smugglers aboard the go-fast vessel were turned over to federal law enforcement officials in St. Petersburg.

This interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.

Click the photo for more from the offload.

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