Coast Guard unloads more than 18 tons of cocaine at Port Everglades

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The U.S. Coast Guard unloaded 18.5 tons of cocaine at Port Everglades, Thursday morning.

According to officials, the 18.5 tons of drugs were collected from 20 different missions, which began in March. “To be able to get 18 tons in as little time as we were out there is incredible,” said U.S. Coast Guard member Joseph Trump.

Crew members spent about three months on the water and said they will head back into the field after three months at home.

The Coast Guard worked along with other law enforcement agencies to stop suspected smugglers along Central and South America, using a maritime route called “The Transit Zone.”

“They use that route because it’s their best route,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Scott Clendenin. “They constantly change their tactics.”

Clendenin said when he’s out on the water with his crew, things do not always go as planned. “Some of them don’t stop right away,” he said. “We have longer term high-speed chases.”

The drugs have an estimated street value of over $498 million.

Seventy suspected smugglers were detained, officials said.

Officials said they have increased their patrols in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and are working with other countries to stop the drugs from entering the U.S.

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