Coast Guard offloads over $214 million estimated wholesale value of cocaine in Miami

A view of approximately eight tons of seized cocaine offloaded from Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber to Coast Guard Base Miami Beach on June 13, 2016. The drugs have an estimated wholesale value of $214 million. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Eric D. Woodall)

A view of approximately eight tons of seized cocaine offloaded from Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber to Coast Guard Base Miami Beach on June 13, 2016.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Eric D. Woodall)

MIAMI  — The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded approximately eight tons of seized cocaine from the Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Fla., Monday.

The drugs were interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean drug transit zone off the coast of Central and South America between early April and late May.

The haul represents the interdiction of 11 suspected smuggling vessels and one bale recovery operation.  The Coast Guard Cutter Seneca was responsible for five cases, seizing an estimated 10,000 pounds of cocaine.  The USS Lassen and an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment is credited with seven interdictions stopping some 6,000 pounds of drugs.

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 and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs and Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play an important role in counter-drug operations.

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.

The Coast Guard has increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied military or law enforcement aircraft or vessels. The interdictions, including the actual boarding are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda.

The Bernard C. Webber is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Miami.

Seneca is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Boston.

Lassen is an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer homeported in Jacksonville, Fla.

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