World

Customs agents take to sky in hunt for boats, mini-subs sneaking cocaine through Caribbean

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents work the radar aboard a P-3 surveillance flight on July 10, 2015, above the Caribbean. While the eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida in the notorious era of the cocaine cowboys that started in the 1970s.  (AP Photo/Alicia Caldwell)

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents work the radar aboard a P-3 surveillance flight on July 10, 2015, above the Caribbean. While the eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida in the notorious era of the cocaine cowboys that started in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Alicia Caldwell)  (The Associated Press)

  • A P-3 surveillance plane is readied for takeoff in July 2015, in Jacksonville, Fla. While the eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida in the notorious era of the cocaine cowboys that started in the 1970s.  (AP Photo/Joshua Replogle)

    A P-3 surveillance plane is readied for takeoff in July 2015, in Jacksonville, Fla. While the eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida in the notorious era of the cocaine cowboys that started in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Joshua Replogle)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents attend a briefing in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 7, 2015. While the eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida in the notorious era of the cocaine cowboys that started in the 1970s.   (AP Photo/Joshua Replogle)

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents attend a briefing in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 7, 2015. While the eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida in the notorious era of the cocaine cowboys that started in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Joshua Replogle)  (The Associated Press)

The eastern Pacific Ocean remains the most popular route for cocaine smuggling, but the Caribbean is again becoming a popular option — decades after U.S. authorities all but shut down cocaine smuggling into South Florida.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that smugglers have increased shipments of cocaine through the Caribbean from about 60 tons to about 100 tons in the past several years.

It's difficult to measure how much cocaine gets through the dragnet of surveillance planes, U.S. Coast Guard ships and other detection efforts.

Since about 2002, the DEA and other American agencies have run interdiction efforts that led to the seizure or destruction of more than 200 tons of cocaine.

Yet the agency says its intelligence suggests drug flows through the Caribbean are on the rise.