Coast Guard Cutter James interdicts $53.5 million of cocaine

A low-profile go-fast vessel is shown next to the Coast Guard Cutter James in mid-May, 2020 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America. The James' crew interdicted 3,100 pounds of cocaine and four suspected smugglers aboard the boat. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

A low-profile go-fast vessel is shown next to the Coast Guard Cutter James in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Coast Guard seized more than 3,100 pounds of cocaine in mid-May with an estimated value of $53.5 million from a low-profile go-fast vessel in international waters of the Pacific Ocean off Central America.

A maritime patrol aircraft spotted a suspected smuggling vessel and diverted the crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter James (WMSL-754) to the low-profile go-fast vessel’s position.

Once on scene, James’ crew boarded the vessel to find four suspected smugglers and initially discovered a small amount of cocaine aboard the vessel.


The boarding team members later discovered an area of the ship that had been closed off, where they discovered the majority of the 3,100 pounds of cocaine.

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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