MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One hundred and ten million dollars worth of cocaine was offloaded by the U.S. Coast at their Miami Beach base Tuesday morning.
The more than 7,000 pounds of cocaine was brought in by Coast Guard Cutter Legare, seized in two different interdictions in the Caribbean.
“One of the larger busts that the Coast Guard has brought in in recent memory,” Lt. Meaghan Gies with the U.S. Coast Guard.
The first seizure happened on March 15th, when a Coast Guard detachment on a Canadian ship searched a fishing boat from Panama and at first found nothing.
“After the boarding, the fishing vessel actually caught on fire so the Coast Guard detachment vessel pulled off all six crew members,” said Lt. Gies.
The rescued crew members were being taken to safety in Jamaica, when millions worth of cocaine were found floating in the water.
“During that transit they then located 97 bales of suspected contraband that was afloat in the water,” said Lt. Gies.
Four days later, Coast Guard crew members intercepted a suspected smuggling go-fast boat from Cartagena, Colombia on its way to the U.S. The Coast Guard helicopter shot out the boat’s engine.
“Helicopter employed warning shots and then disabled the vessel,” said Lt. Gies. “They discovered there was over 900 kilograms of suspected contraband.”
The wholesale value of the seized cocaine is about $110 million, but the drugs are worth triple that amount if sold on the streets.
“This is the main goal of the Coast Guard, to stop this bulk contraband, this bulk cocaine from coming in and further deteriorating the crime and the violence in South Florida,” said Lt. Gies.
The five suspected smugglers on the go-fast boat were taken back to Colombia to face prosecution. The drugs will be turned over to the DEA and destroyed.
The Coast Guard did not find enough evidence to prove the cocaine found floating in the water came from the Panamanian boat, so the crew members were dropped off in Jamaica.
The Coast Guard says since October 2013, they have interdicted more than 14,700 kilograms of cocaine worth nearly $500 million.