FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The U.S. Coast Guard completed a massive offload of drugs Thursday which were seized at sea during a three-month-long operation.
The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hamilton offloaded about 26,000 pounds of cocaine and 1,500 pounds of marijuana at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
Chopper 4 flew over the docked ship and captured footage of rows of pallets stacked with the drugs before the unloading.
Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships worked together to confiscate the drugs from vessels in international waters off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America.
Commanding officer of the cutter Hamilton, Capt. Mark Gordon said drugs weren’t the only illegal goods collected.
“During the boarding of an Ecuadorian fishing vessel on behalf of the government of Ecuador, this team found illegal weapons hidden on board and other evidence of nefarious activity,” Capt. Gordon said.
Crew members were praised for sailing close to 10,000 miles to keep what Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan calls poison, out of American communities.
“Three-hundred fifty million dollars of street value that’s not going to go to some of the most violent criminals in the world in this hemisphere do let me just say thank you first to the team of Hamilton,” said McAleenan.
WATCH: Video of drugs piled on Coast Guard Cutter
Rear Admiral Peter Brown said he hopes this type of large seizure sends drug king pins a message that the U.S. Coast Guard will continue to fight against the ‘toxic trade.’
While the work of these men and women is admirable, officials touched on the downsides of the job.
“It is incredibly difficult for our crew to be separated from family and loved ones for such an extended period of time, but their perseverance and enthusiasm to conducting this mission was fundamental to our success,” said Capt. Gordon. “Without their determination these criminal organizations would continue to spread fear and violence throughout the Americas.”
The operation was part of a multi-agency task force that targeted transnational criminal organizations.