Coast Guard crews unloaded more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine in San Diego Monday after completing an operation that officials call a significant blow to drug smuggling networks.
Over the past 90 days, Coast Guard and Navy service members have patrolled the coasts of Central and South America as part of Operation Martillo. The efforts aimed to disrupt smuggling of not only drugs, but weapons, cash and people as well.
In 18 busts, crews hauled in over 14 tons of cocaine, estimated to have a $423 million wholesale value.
A Coast Guard ship brought the results of their labor to Naval Base San Diego Monday morning, offloading the massive amount of drugs to be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Pacific Area Commander Vice. Adm. Charles W. Ray welcomed the service members back to land and honored them with an award.
“You're work also went a long ways to demonstrating our resolve as a service to secure the borders of our nation and ensure that free commerce comes and goes and those that would do us ill will are kept away,” said Ray.
Several people were detained through the operation, and the DEA will now take over the investigation.
According to the Coast Guard, transnational organized crime presents increased threats throughout the Western Hemisphere. Officials hope taking this cocaine out of the equation will put a big dent in illegal trafficking.