SAN DIEGO (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard has seized more cocaine off Latin America's Pacific coast over 10 months than in the past three years combined.
Adm. Paul Zukunft, speaking Monday in San Diego where the drugs were being taken off a Coast Guard vessel, said 119,000 pounds of cocaine were seized over the past 10 months.
Zukunft says his military branch now has a greater presence on the high seas after having to pull back its boats two years ago to meet automatic federal budget reductions.
He says the restoration has resulted in just over $1 billion in illegal drugs being seized.
The Coast Guard is the only U.S. military branch able to make drug arrests hundreds of miles offshore.
Traffickers increasingly are turning to the seas to get their U.S.-bound loads around tightened security on land.