Here’s what $1 billion worth of cocaine looks like

Coast Guard cocaine drug bust seizure
seized by the US Coast Guard is offloaded on March

US Coast

The crew of the US Coast Guard cutter James returned to port this
week in Miami with a haul of roughly 16 tons of cocaine gathered by it, other
Coast Guard cutters, and international partners over 26 days in
the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The cocaine, seized in 17 interdiction actions, had an estimated
wholesale value of $420 million, or about $29,000 a kilo.

Officials said the haul would have garnered more than $1 billion
dollars — about $70,000 a kilo — on the street, according to WSVN, a Miami news outlet.

The James, working with a helicopter unit, seized 5.19 tons of cocaine in five
incidents, while Coast Guard cutter Mohawk intercepted 5.79 tons
of the drug in seven seizures.

Other Coast Guard cutters and a Canadian vessel brought in the
rest. About 30 people suspected of smuggling were apprehended.

Here’s what more than $1 billion worth of cocaine looks like:

US Coast Guard cocaine drug seizure
crew of the Coast Guard cutter James with 16 tons of cocaine
seized in the eastern Pacific.

Coast Guard

“To look at those bales as just cocaine is short-sighted,” Coast
Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said, according to WSVN. “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.”

The James — a 418-foot vessel based in Charleston, South Carolina
— was deployed with a helicopter interdiction tactical squadron,
or HITRON, and has boats that can embark quickly from the back of
the vessel.

“With this ship, we’re capable of owning the night, and that’s
what we want to continue to do,” Fedor said. During the deployment, the HITRON
squad recorded its 500th drug interdiction on March 11, footage
of which you can see below:

HITRON units patrol in known smuggling areas and use
precision marksmen to disable go-fast boats and other smuggling
vessels in the event their crews don’t comply with
law-enforcement orders.

“As I like to say, unfortunately, business is good for us. And I
wish it wasn’t,” said Capt. Keith Gavin, who oversees the
helicopter unit, according to CBS Miami. Gavin said the unit
performed 12 interdictions a month on average.

While the size and value of the James’ haul are noteworthy, it is
only the latest cocaine seizure brought in by the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard cocaine drug bust
of cocaine seized by the Coast Guard in the eastern

US Coast

On March 19 and 21, the Coast Guard unloaded just under 1.5 tons
of cocaine in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. The total amount of cocaine was valued at $44.5 million.

On March 13, Coast Guard cutter Spencer sailed into Boston with 1.5 tons of cocaine
worth more than $92 million and 1.5 tons of marijuana seized
during a 74-day deployment in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The
Spencer also apprehended 13 people suspected of smuggling drugs.

On February 27, the Coast Guard in San Juan offloaded 4.2 tons of cocaine, estimated to be worth
$125 million, seized in several incidents around the Caribbean.

On February 17, Coast Guard cutter Midgett sailed into Naval Base
San Diego laden with 13 tons of cocaine seized in 21 interdictions
by several Coast Guard cutters in the eastern Pacific Ocean
between mid-November and January.

US Coast Guard cocaine seizure drug smuggling
Guard personnel offload part of a cocaine haul on October

US Coast

On January 13, Coast Guard cutter Tahoma returned to its home
port in Boston from a 49-day deployment in the eastern Pacific
Ocean and Caribbean Sea carrying nearly 3.5 tons of cocaine with an estimated street
value of $90 million.

Two days before, the Coast Guard in San Juan unloaded four people
suspected of smuggling and about a ton of cocaine valued at $30 million.

The cocaine seizures this year come after a record amount was
seized in fiscal 2016.

The Coast Guard reported bringing in 416,000 pounds, or 208 tons, of cocaine
during 263 operations between October 1, 2015, and September 30,

The total well exceeded the previous record of 367,700 pounds
seized in 2008 and had a total wholesale value of $5.6 billion.
The Coast Guard also reported detaining a record 585 suspects in 2016, more than the 503
apprehended during 2015.

4 tons of cocaine are transferred from the guided-missile frigate
USS Rentz by US authorities in March 2014.

US Coast Guard

Those seizures at sea may represent only a small portion of the
drugs brought into the US that way.

In 2012, 80% of the drugs smuggled into the US were
thought to come via maritime routes, according to US Foreign
Military Studies Office data.

Of that amount, 30% was thought to come in aboard narco submarines.

The large area of Pacific coastline belonging to Colombia and
Peru, two of the world’s three main cocaine producers, and the
immense size of the ocean make it a prime route for smugglers.

But continued busts of large drug shipments in and around the Caribbean indicate that some smugglers are
returning to routes once used by high-profile and pioneering
traffickers like George Jung and the Medellin cartel.

Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/coast-guard-cocaine-seizures-in-pacific-ocean-2017-3

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