The U.S. Coast Guard crew from the Cutter Midgett vessel unloaded 13 tons of seized cocaine at Naval Base San Diego on Thursday.
The cocaine was taken during 21 interdictions with suspected drug smuggling vessels by U.S. Coast Guard cutters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, from November 2016 to January 2017, according to the U.S. Coast Guard 11th District.
“Combating transnational organized crime networks, from which the illegal drug trade stems, is of paramount importance to the national security of the U.S.,” said the U.S. Coast Guard Department of Homeland Security.
Several Coast Guard cutters from across the U.S. routinely patrol the Eastern Pacific Ocean to prevent drug smuggling vessels from entering the U.S., according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
“It’s one of the main routes they use to get drugs into the U.S., so it’s very important that we’re out there patrolling,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joe Guzman, a Coast Guard public affairs specialist in San Diego.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sherman from Hawaii seized 9,600 pounds. The Tahoma from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, seized 6,800 pounds. Midgett, from Seattle seized 5,900 pounds, and Mellon, also from Seattle seized 1,100 pounds. Diligence, from Wilmington, North Carolina, seized 2,900 pounds.
Over 416,600 pounds of cocaine was seized from the Eastern Pacific during the 2016 fiscal year, and 585 suspected smugglers were taken into custody.