The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf unloaded 18,000 pounds of cocaine in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego Wednesday morning.
The cocaine was seized in the Eastern Pacific between October and early December. Officials estimated its value at $312 million.
“This is life-saving work they’re doing,” said Linda Fagan, Vice Admiral of the U.S. Coast Guard said. “We’ll never really know the amount of lives we’ve saved by the narcotics on deck here, but we have saved lives, by interdicting this cocaine at sea. And I am proud of what they’ve done.”
The USCG said all seven narcotics interdictions were off the coast of South and Central America. In all, five USGC Cutter crews were involved in seizing the illegal cocaine:
- Northland: 3,328 pounds
- James: 1,609 pounds
- Harriet Lane: 5,037 pounds
- Thetis: 2,394 pounds
- Bertholf: 5,851 pounds
The crew of the Bertholf was at sea in the Pacific for nine months. First, conducting a U.N.-sanctioned missions near Asia, then moving to the Eastern Pacific for drug seizure patrol.
Video provided by the Department of Defense shows crews confronting suspected smugglers in semi-submersible vessels, or “narco-subs” transporting bales of cocaine. The missions occurred during daylight and under the cover of night as well.
Wednesday morning on board the cutter Bertholf, USCG leadership, along with the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Attorney Southern District of California, FBI, Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security were on hand for the offloading at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.
The bales of cocaine were stacked and then loaded by crane into a moving truck and transported to an undisclosed location to be destroyed.