Coast Guard seizes $196 million of cocaine in second bust this week – with Video

SEATTLE – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, homeported here, and a Navy maritime patrol aircraft crew teamed up to interdict a stateless (unflagged,) self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel Wednesday with seven tons of cocaine aboard approximately 400 miles south of the Mexico-Guatemala border.

The 60-foot, self-propelled, semi-submersible (SPSS) craft was detected by the crew of the Navy aircraft which vectored the crew of the Midgett to the location of the SPSS. The Coast Guard quickly commenced a boarding of the stateless SPSS. The Coast Guard boarding team located 295 bales of cocaine, valued at more than $196 million, in a huge forward compartment. The SPSS became unstable and began to sink during the transfer of the bales of cocaine from the SPSS to Midgett. The condition of the vessel made it unsafe to tow and Midgett’s crew sank the vessel as a hazard to navigation.

Wednesday’s interdiction follows a daring nighttime boarding and seizure of another SPSS on Saturday in which the Coast Guard boarding team, embarked aboard the USS McInerney, surprised an SPSS with four suspected smugglers using the cover of darkness to take positive control of the SPSS. The smugglers attempted to throw the boarding team into the sea by reversing the SPSS engines suddenly, and attempted to scuttle the vessel, but the boarding team compelled the smugglers to comply with orders to close the scuttling valves. Seven tons of cocaine were seized from the SPSS and the USS McInerney took the SPSS in tow.

“I’m proud to tell you that over the past five days, Pacific Area Coast Guard units, with the help of our U.S. Navy and interagency partners, seized more than 14 tons of cocaine with a street value of more than $383 million from two self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean,” said Adm. Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. “The interoperability between Coast Guard and Navy assets has never bee more effective. Our Department of Defense and interagency partners are a critical force multiplier making such interdictions possible.”

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