MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of cocaine Tuesday in Port Everglades worth an estimated $190 million wholesale seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The drugs were interdicted off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by multiple U.S. Coast Guard cutters.
The offload represents seven separate, suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions by the Coast Guard:
- The cutter Hamilton was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 1,931 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Northland was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 2,871 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Diligence was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 960 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Venturous was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 601 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane was responsible for one case seizing and estimated 2 kilograms of cocaine.
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in California, on the East Coast, and in Puerto Rico.
“The hard work of all our servicemen and women, along with our allied partners, directly contributed to the interdiction of 7 tons of cocaine at sea,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, cutter Hamilton commanding officer. “It truly is a team effort stopping these drugs from entering the United States, but more important than the drugs themselves are the arrests and the linkages these cases represent and the steps closer to dismantling the criminal networks that tried to move them into the United States. These transnational criminal organizations would have used the illicit proceeds from these drugs to not only expand their networks but to continue to sow violence, corruption, and a break down in the rule of law throughout the world. ”
The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District headquartered in Alameda, California.
The cutter Hamilton is a 418-foot national security cutter homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. The cutters Harriet Lane and Northland are 270-foot medium endurance cutters homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The cutter Diligence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Wilmington, North Carolina. The cutter Venturous is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida.