MIAMI (CBS4) – While on patrol April 18th, Coast Guards of the crew Cutter Gallatin boarded a fishing boat in the western Caribbean Sea. During a search of the vessel, the crew found and detained 2,200 pounds of cocaine, worth roughly $27 million.

“Inside one of the rear fish holds,” explained Coast Guard Officer Anthony Siciak. “As soon as we looked inside the hold, we noticed multiple bales at that point.”

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The three suspected smugglers, along with the 68-foot fishing vessel and the drugs, were later transported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Miami.

The drugs were unloaded Friday in Miami Beach and transferred to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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The patrol is part of a larger operation, Operation Martillo, which works to stop drug, weapons, and drug-related cash smugglers. Federal agents call the operation a big success.

“Operation Martillo now, almost 15 months old,” explained Marine General John Kelly from the U.S. Southern Command. “Has taken off the market, before it gets ashore, gets to the United States has taken off the market over 200 tons of cocaine.”

He said the effects of taking those drugs off the streets are noticed by families across the US.

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“What this represents is tens of thousands of young people that not start using drugs, many thousands of addicts that might have a chance of being rehabilitated and obvious al the human misery that goes along all the families,” said Kelly.

Ted Scouten