MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Thirty-seven million dollars worth of cocaine will not make it to the streets of South Florida, or anywhere else for that matter, after the cocaine contraband was seized at sea and offloaded Tuesday at the Miami Beach Coast Guard station.
One by one the 45 bales of cocaine were offloaded by Coast Guard personnel from one of their ships to their base on Miami Beach where the drugs were carted away by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The 2,500 pounds of cocaine was seized in an historic, multi-national operation by the U.S. and U.K. south of the Dominican Republic.
“On January 22nd in the early morning hours a Coast Guard fixed wing aircraft spotted a go fast vessel, 25 feet, going at a high rate of speed, it had four individuals onboard. They detected a number of suspicious looking packages,” said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Commander Game Somma.
The U.S. Coast Guard launched its helicopter from the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight to intercept the suspected drug smugglers.
This drug interdiction marks the first time an armed U.S. Coast Guard helicopter embarked on a foreign flagged military vessel in support of counterdrug operations.
“The Coast Guard helicopter went out to pursue the the go fast vessel, it fired warning shots to get them to stop.
The Coast Guard helicopter arrived and fired warning shots in an attempt to get the speeding vessel to stop,” said Somma. “When the go fast vessel continued, they began jettisoning their packages overboard. The Coast Guard helicopter then fired disabling fire into into the engines to stop the vessel.”
Officials detained the four suspected smugglers and recovered the drug bales from the water.
The Coast Guard said the shipment was most likely headed to Miami.
“This historic operation is a result of a dedication to improved interoperability and highlights the great success and commitment of our interagency partnerships to stop the illegal flow of narcotics into the United States,” said Rear Admiral Jake Korn, commander of the Coast Guard Seventh District.
The Coast Guard reports they’ve brought in more than $350 million in cocaine since their fiscal year began last October.
The four suspected smugglers will be transferred to law enforcement authorities in the U.S.