Record breaking month for drug seizures

WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard and partner agencies seized 11,300 pounds of marijuana before it reached U.S. shores in May, breaking a single-month record set a decade ago.

“The Coast Guard and our interagency partners have already interdicted more marijuana near the U.S. maritime border with Mexico in the first two quarters of fiscal year 2012 than it did in all of 2011,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp. “While the Coast Guard provides a robust counterdrug presence near the border as the final maritime line of defense, we also deploy cutters, aircraft and law enforcement teams off South and Central America to interdict illicit contraband, primarily cocaine, in bulk before it reaches Mexico and where it has been divided into smaller packages for delivery to drug dealers in the U.S.”

The record-breaking month started May 6 with the interdiction of approximately 600 pounds of marijuana and hash with an estimated street value of $544,200 off the coast of Miami. The contraband was seized and the smugglers detained after a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Miami spotted the smuggling vessel. Boat crews from Coast Guard Stations Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale were then called on to interdict the suspect vessel.

The service also intercepted 10,756 pounds of cocaine in May, more than double the amount seized for that same month in the previous two years.

Additional cocaine seizures throughout the month were made possible through interagency and international cooperation in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean drug transit zones where the Coast Guard works with our South and Central American partners, U.S. Southern Command, Joint Interagency Task Force South, the U.S. Navy, and Customs and Border Protection to detect smugglers. In the approaches to the U.S. coast a network of Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, and state and local entities work together to secure the maritime border.

“Coast Guard cutters, supported by an interagency intelligence and surveillance network, were an integral part of U.S. efforts last year that resulted in the interdiction of 180,000 pounds of cocaine valued at $2.2 billion before it reached U.S. shores,” said Papp, who also serves as the chairman of The Interdiction Committee under the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Interdicting drugs at sea prior to it crossing our borders is an important and efficient element of the overall national strategy to reduce drug supply and demand in the U.S. The 180,000 pounds of cocaine seized equals roughly four times the amount of cocaine seized by one million land-based U.S. law enforcement personnel.”

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