U.S. Coast Guard seize more than $180 million worth of cocaine in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - More than $180 million worth of cocaine has been seized by the U.S. Coast Guard in Fort Lauderdale, Thursday.

The total haul weighs about six tons.

“They were all coming from that region, Colombia, Ecuador area, and all headed towards Central America. So, our goal is to interdict them at sea,” said Captain Mark Fedor, commanding officer of the USCG cutter James.

According to Fedor, the cocaine is almost pure and was seized in the middle of the night.

“The majority of the drugs that we seize are in small, about 35-feet to 40-feet go-fast vessels,” said Fedor. “They’re open construction, multiple outward engines and they leave Colombia and they run hundreds of miles, sometimes thousands of miles to get to their destination either in Central America or Mexico.”

The USCG cutter James has sensors that can detect and pinpoint these small boats out in the middle of the ocean.

“We have a helicopter on board. We have three small boats that we can launch over the horizon. So, we can send them about 40 miles, 50 miles away from the cutter to interdict these go-fast vessels,” Fedor said.

A total of 11 arrests were made as a result of the cargo seizure. Four of the individuals arrested will be taken back to Costa Rica, while the other seven will be prosecuted in the U.S.

“It’s really shortsighted to just look at it as cocaine,” said Fedor. “Each of those bales is really the embodiment of violence, corruption and instability in a region, Central America, that just can’t absorb it. So, when we see those problems arise on our southwest boarder, cocaine is the genesis of those problems.”

The cocaine will now go to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Some of it will be kept for evidence, while the rest will be destroyed and likely burned.

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