FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The United States Coast Guard offloaded approximately 34,780 pounds of cocaine in Port Everglades.
The offloading took place on Tuesday morning, representing 21 separate drug interdiction operations that happened at sea by different Coast Guard crews.
“I am extremely proud of all the women and men that contributed to the mission success,” said Commanding Officer Michael Sharp. “It is a direct reflection of how the U.S. Coast Guard delivers mission excellence anytime, anywhere.”
The cocaine busts happened off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America during the span of about three months by six different crews.
“Make no mistake, at any given moment contraband is being transported via maritime routes in the Eastern Pacific with an eventual final destination of the United States,” said Coast Guard Cutter Forward Cmdr. Michael Sharp.
The Coast Guard’s work comes with a number of challenges, adapting to the new ways smugglers try to avoid detection on the water.
“They did the nation’s business in a very tricky space, working against transnational criminal organizations,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. “It is dangerous work and these men and women behind us stayed focused on that task for 85 days here, and I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”
In the last three years collectively, the Coast Guard has removed 1.3 million pounds of cocaine from the waters off the U.S. shore.
“We pushed the borders, 15,000 miles from American shorelines, as a part of a comprehensive strategy to stem a legal flow of narcotics and to really protect our border,” said Schultz.
“It can be tiring, but it is very rewarding,” said Coast Guard member Kelly Crossland.
When asked about how their work was affected by the Government shutdown, Crossland said, “Of course it affected people, affected families, but we kind of had our head in the game at that point.”
The cocaine seized is estimated to be worth $466 million wholesale.
“We’re going up against an enemy, these drug organizations that have guns and they have money and they have means and they shoot back, so there are risks all around,” said Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command. “This is a mission success. More work needs to be done, and what you see behind us has resulted in saved lives in the United States. It has resulted in disrupted criminal networks.”
A total of 49 individuals were detained from the three-month period of drug interdiction operations.
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