MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More than 3,800 pounds of cocaine seized by the U.S. Coast in three different interdictions were offloaded Friday at the guard’s base in Miami Beach.
The wholesale value of the drugs is approximately $48 million. Coast Guard Commander John Detleff ssaid during one of the interdictions, things got a little interesting when they had to open fire on a suspected smuggling vessel from a helicopter.
“They didn’t stop,” said Dwetleff. “They started jettisoning contraband overboard and then we proceeded to disabling fire where we actually had the marksman fire 50 caliber rounds into the engine of the outboard. That stopped the vessel.”
The first seizure occurred May 31st when the crew of the Valiant intercepted a 35 foot go fast boat with 2,600 pounds of cocaine onboard. The estimated value of the drugs was $32.5 million. The crew also took five suspected smugglers into custody.
“The vessels run at night. They run under cover of darkness. They don’t have any navigation lights,” said Dettleff who commands the Valiant. “Obviously we are out there actively looking and located them.”
On June 10, a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment team aboard the Navy’s USS Elrod interdicted a suspected smuggling vessel carrying more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine. The crews of the Elrod and the Coast Guard LEDET recovered approximately $13 million worth of cocaine and took four suspected smugglers into custody.
The third seizure took place June 15th when the USS Carr and a Coast Guard LEDET team seized 220 pounds of cocaine found aboard a 40-foot sailing vessel off the coast of Colombia. Three suspected smugglers were taken into custody.
The interdictions were part of Operation Martillo (Spanish for ‘hammer’) which is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere effort to target traffickers in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.
Fridays arrival of Valiant was more than just a drug drop off. It was a homecoming of sorts. Dozens of families lined the dock side waiting for their loved ones to disembark.
“I’m excited for him to do some of the changing of the diapers,” said Melissa Bixler as she waited for her husband Robbie.
“No problem, I’ll do that,” said Robbie Bixler who hadn’t seen his wife and Robbie Jr. in two months.
“They have been working so hard, I’ve barely been able to talk to my husband over email,” said Melissa Bixler.