MIAMI -- Coast Guard Station Miami Beach was scheduled to offload approximately 719 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $23 million at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Florida.
The offload is a result of a successful drug interdiction in the Caribbean Sept. 8, 2014.
While on routine patrol, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear spotted a suspicious 208-foot cargo vessel northeast of Panama in international waters. The Coast Guard Cutter Bear launched their boarding team who embarked the cargo vessel. The boarding team subsequently found multiple packages hidden throughout the ship. The discovered contraband tested positive for cocaine and the Coast Guard took thirteen suspected smugglers into custody.
This seizure marks the third time in recent weeks in which large quantities of illegal narcotics were seized from cargo vessels.
"Drug smuggling organizations continually try to shift their tactics to avoid interdiction by the Coast Guard," said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, deputy chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. "Our goal is to prevent illegal drugs from reaching American shores and to reduce the destabilization effects they have on our neighboring countries in Central America. We will continue to lawfully stop and search vessels we suspect may be involved in maritime illicit trafficking."
On Aug. 28, the Coast Guard Cutter Legare boarded a 165-foot Panamanian-flagged coastal freighter and seized 1,500 kilograms of cocaine worth and estimated wholesale value of approximately $49.9 million.
On Aug. 10, the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa located 973 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $32 million aboard a 226-foot Panamanian-flagged freighter while patrolling off the coast of Haiti.
The Bear and Legare interdictions were part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government's whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies, to counter illicit trafficking.