Over the last two years, the US Coast Guard has been committing personnel and resources to known drug-transit zones, bringing intelligence and investigative resources to bear in an effort to crack down on traffickers and the flow of drugs north to the voracious US market.
These efforts have yielded a number of large seizures in recent months.
On February 12, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, on a counter-smuggling patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, encountered and intercepted suspected smugglers aboard a fast boat in international waters.
Footage released by the US government shows Coast Guard boarding officers stopping and boarding the suspected smuggling vessel, apprehending the people on board and conducting a search.
The February 12 incident was not the Stratton’s only encounter with suspected smugglers while it was at sea. On February 13, the Coast Guard vessel pursued a suspected smuggling boat in the eastern Pacific, eventually stopping it.
On February 23, the Stratton stopped and boarded another suspected smuggling boat in the Pacific.
The crew of the Stratton, a 418-foot Cutter launched in July 2010 and based out of Alameda, California, hauled in a total of 3,700 pounds of cocaine during its counter-smuggling patrol.
On March 31, US Coast Guard officials in San Diego offloaded roughly 6 tons of cocaine seized in the eastern Pacific by four of the service’s cutters from late January through February.
The offloading of the drugs, done at San Diego’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, was overseen by the Stratton’s commanding officer.
Earlier this week, the crew of Coast Guard cutter James docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a load of 16 tons of cocaine, seized by it, other Coast Guard cutters, and international partners in the eastern Pacific over a 26-day period.
The cocaine, seized during 17 interdictions, was valued at $420 million wholesale and more than a billion dollars on the street.