MIAMI, FL (STL.News) – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear (WMEC-901) offloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $12.5 million wholesale and 3,660 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $50 million wholesale Thursday at Port Everglades seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The drugs were interdicted off the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America and represent five separate, suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions by the U.S. Coast Guard:
- The Coast Guard Cutter Bear was responsible for two cases, seizing approximately 7,900 pounds of marijuana and 300 pounds of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant (WMEC-621) was responsible for one case, seizing approximately 2,700 pounds of cocaine.
- The USS Tornado (PC-14) with a Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team was responsible for 2 cases seizing approximately 6,100 pounds of marijuana and 660 pounds of cocaine.
“I could not be prouder of this crew’s accomplishments, and of the entire interagency and allied team that continue to stand the watch in an effort to stem the efforts of smugglers that seek to destabilize the Western hemisphere while they line their pockets,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Dennelly, Executive Officer of Coast Guard Cutter Bear. “It is through successful interdictions, such as the ones we are offloading today, that impact these criminal organizations, regardless of the product they are smuggling. It is certainly a team effort with contributions by our Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations partners, Department of Defense, and other DHS partners that make todays offload possible.”
The cutter Bear is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. The cutter Valiant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Jacksonville, Florida. The USS Tornado is a 179-foot Cyclone class patrol ship homeported in Jacksonville, Florida.
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 cutter Tampa even participated in the first joint boarding in recent memory between the United States and Ecuador. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Basin requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.