The U.S. Navy has recovered 19,000 pounds of marijuana off the coast of California, but the traffickers who dumped the haul managed to escape.

The massive load of the drug was left floating in the Pacific Ocean by three boats, which fled when the navy aircraft carrier approached, the navy told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday.

Officers aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz, missile cruiser Princeton, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6, Helicopter Maritime Squadron 75 and members of the Mexico's navy recovered 186 bales of cannabis Saturday.

"This crew's response was amazing," Nimitz commanding officer Jeff Ruth said. "To operationally shift gears quickly and safely from carrier qualifications to a real-world response shows what true professionals work here."

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