FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – More than 12 tons of cocaine seized at sea by the Coast Guard was offloaded Thursday at Port Everglades.
The drugs, worth an estimated $378-million, were interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between mid-October and late November.
The cocaine was being smuggled on boats in known drug transit zones off the coast of Central and South America by three U.S. Coast Guard cutters and a Royal Canadian Navy ship. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba made five interdictions, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis also made five interdictions, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer made one seizure and another seizure was made by the HMCS Nanaimo with a Coast Guard LEDET.
“These at sea interdictions are often high tempo, high-risk missions that occur in the dark of night,” said Cmdr. Michael Turdo, commanding officer of the cutter Escanaba.”I know that I speak for my fellow commanding officers when I say that I am extremely proud of the tireless dedication and unwavering professionalism of our crews.”
The crew is comprised of 85 enlisted men and women and 15 officers. It was the last mission at sea for Sagrario Medrano and it was personal.
“By taking all of those drugs off the street, knowing that our children, the future of our country, are not going to be involved in these drugs,” she said.
Turdo said there’s also a big picture.
“The illegal drug trade funds transnational organized crime and increases violence and instability in the Western Hemisphere. The transnational organized crime networks engage in illicit activities that span drug trafficking, terrorism, human smuggling, weapons trafficking, piracy, and money laundering.
The 270-foot cutter Escanaba is the third ship named that. A prior Escanaba was sunk in World War II and nearly all the crew was lost. That’s why the current crew of the Escanaba takes their motto “The Spirit Lives On” to heart.
“The Escanaba has a long history. It is certainly important to us, as a crew, that we prove successful out here,” said William Deem.