MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There was lots of “white powder” on Miami Beach Miami on Friday but it had nothing to do with snow or the weather.
The Coast Guard offloaded nearly a ton of cocaine at their Miami Beach station which was seized during a drug patrol in the Caribbean.
The 42 bales represented a seizure of cocaine cowboys era proportions. The estimated value of the cocaine is $22 million.
The Coast Guard cutter Bear delivered the piles of noxious white powder and participated in the operation that seized it, but did not make the actual takedown. The pursuit of the smugglers and seizure of the coke was carried out by the Royal Netherlands Navy ship the Van Amstel.
The Amstel was participating in Operation Martillo, Spanish for “hammer,” a multi-agency, multi-nation effort targeting smugglers of drugs, weapons and cash from the Caribbean and Latin America. Operation Martillo, an unprecedented cooperative effort, is under the direction of the Miami-based United States Southern Command, or SOUTHCOM.
The smugglers, in a go-fast boat, threw the bales of cocaine overboard as they were being chased.
Members of the Bear’s crew took personal pride in the bust, as with many the cutter has been involved with.
“It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Petty Officer Chris Thompson. “It’s amazing. I’ve been doing this since I was 19 years old, and I don’t plan to do anything else for the rest of my life.”
Unfortunately, the smugglers’ go-fast was faster than the Dutch Navy’s fast frigate. The bad guys got away.
Still, the accomplishment was considerable, according to the Bear’s captain.
“When you see $22 million worth of drugs come back, with or without criminals, that’s $22 million less in weapons, $22 million less in cash flow, that’s $22 million less in nefarious activities,” said Commander David Ramassini.
Over the last year, the Coast Guard, alone, has seized nearly 40 tons of cocaine. That’s more than was seized by all land-based law enforcement agencies combined.