FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Seven tons of cocaine will not make it to the shores of South Florida or anywhere else for that matter after being seized at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton is offloading that 7 tons of cocaine Tuesday in Port Everglades.
It’s worth an estimated $190 million wholesale.
“Today’s offload is just a fraction of the narcotics we will seize in the coming months,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, cutter Hamilton commanding officer.
The drugs were seized in just seven interdictions in international waters off the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America by multiple U.S. Coast Guard cutters in just one month.
“We have seen a growing threat as criminal groups construct specially designed low profile go-fast vessels,” said Gordon. “Sometimes 33 foot, sometimes larger vessels, going fast, that in and of itself can sometimes be a dangerous weapon.”
Adrian Cohen, a translator, is part of the ship’s boarding team. He said every time his nerves are on edge.
“Every time before boarding, if we know that we’re going after someone, you do a little prayer and think about your training,” he said.
Although several different vessels were involved in the interdictions, Hamilton’s crew was responsible for more than 4,000 pounds of the seized cocaine.
Eighteen suspected smugglers were arrested and brought to the U.S., nine others were turned over to law enforcement in Ecuador.
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime.
The Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin are known drug transit zones off Central and South America. The Coast Guard has increased its U.S. and allied presence in these areas to stop these types of smuggling operations.