Coast Guard Unloads $500 Million In Cocaine From 20 Seizures

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard unloaded cocaine in South Florida worth nearly $500 million from 20 separate seizures in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Coast Guard officials said in a news release Thursday the seizures totaled about 18.5 tons (about 18.8 metric tons) of cocaine. The recently seized drugs were brought to Port Everglades by the cutter Hamilton.

Authorities say the cocaine was intercepted along the Central and South American coasts by Coast Guard cutters and a Royal Canadian Navy ship sailing with a Coast Guard team aboard. The eastern Pacific is a prime smuggling route for cocaine headed to Mexico, where it is typically brought into the U.S.

Capt. Scott Clendenin, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, credited international partnerships for the bust, adding that such cooperation is essential in the fight the drug trade.

“No one nation alone can prevent the deleterious impact of drug smuggling on our borders and on the region as a whole,” Hamilton said, in a statement. “Our efforts to interdict modern maritime smugglers involves intricately choreographed actions of joint, interagency and international operations centers, aircraft and vessels operating in concert against stealthy and well-funded international criminal smuggling organizations.”

Numerous suspected smugglers are being prosecuted by U.S. attorneys in California, along the East Coast and elsewhere as a result of the operations.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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