Coast Guard seizes $1.4B in illegal cocaine, marijuana on way to US

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A team of United States Coast Guard units working with Canadian military members has interdicted a record $1.4 billion worth of illegal narcotics over the past two months, officials said.

The seizure — which is the largest of its kind in the branch’s history — included 59,700 pounds of cocaine and 1,430 pounds of marijuana taken from smugglers in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean oceans, USCG said.

Captain Todd Vance of the coast guard cutter James said Thursday that his ship and his Canadian allies dealt a “significant blow” in the agency’s fight to stop illegal drugs.

“Today, the crew of James will unload 26 metric tons of cocaine and marijuana interdicted by multiple Coast Guard Units, [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] air assets and Canadian partners with a wholesale street value of over $1.4 billion, which is the largest offload in the James’ history and double what was interdicted in our Fall 2020 patrol,” Vance said.

The captain said his crew of 150 sailors patrol the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean seas, disrupting the flow of drugs coming into Central America for eventual transport to the United States. The last patrol lasted about two months.

“This crew and their efforts have struck a significant blow in the fight to combat the criminal networks who create the destabilizing influence we’re all witnessing in Central America and at our nation’s southern border,” he said.

The patrol doubled the amount of drugs seized from its previous one, Vance said.

Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, Atlantic Area Commander, called the seizure “historic” on Thursday, just a day after the agency’s 231st birthday.

“This is the largest illicit drug offload in Coast Guard history. This is historic, and it’s a result of the combined efforts of our interagency partners and a dedicated international coalition,” he said Thursday.

“Drug trafficking organizations are ruthless and highly adaptable. We will remain adaptable and we will never relent.”

Sailors and staff from the Canadian Vessel HMCS Shawinigan were also present at the press conference.

Major General Paul Ormsby, Canadian Defense Attaché, spoke Thursday and thanked the American and Canadian men and women involved.

“We know that no nation can do it alone, and that we are stronger together,” he said.

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