US Coast Guard seizes 16 tons of cocaine

PORT EVERGLADES (WSVN) – A news conference took place in Miami after the U.S. Coast Guard made more than a dozen drug busts during a 60-day mission.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, they seized a total of about 16 tons of cocaine. The mission, where officials made numerous seizures and drug busts, took them through South America, the Caribbean Sea and part of the Atlantic Ocean.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor spoke at the news conference, at around 10 a.m., Tuesday about the dangers during the mission. “To look at those bales as just cocaine is short-sighted,” he said. “When those smugglers are racing across the Caribbean or the Pacific, they’re just not carrying cocaine. They’re delivering violence, corruption and instability to a part of the world – the Western hemisphere – that just can’t absorb it.”

Officials confirmed that the wholesale value of the 16 tons of cocaine is an estimated value of $420 million and a street value of over $1 billion.

Officials used the U.S. Coast Guard James, a cutter ship that saw its first action on the waters with this mission. The ship docked on Monday.

The new cutter carries a helicopter and boats that can deploy from the back quickly.

“With this ship, we’re capable of owning the night, and that’s what we want to continue to do,” Fedor said.

Seven vessels were stopped and those on board were brought into custody during the mission, as well. At least 30 smugglers will face drug charges, officials said.

The flurry of drug busts was during a mission titled “HITRON,” which was run by the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron. This was the 500th mission for the program.

“What really makes this ship work is the crew,” Fedor said. “It’s the men and women standing back here. They’re the ones who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to execute these missions in the middle of the night.”

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James crew will return to their home in Charleston to enjoy a much-deserved leave.

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