FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – More than 26 tons of cocaine worth at least $715 million was brought ashore last Thursday in Florida following multiple recent seizures by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy in the eastern Pacific.
Coast Guard officers said at a news conference Thursday that the drugs brought to Fort Lauderdale came from 27 separate vessel interdictions and five bale recovery operations off Central and South America over the past three months.
Pallets containing the drugs, many wrapped in brightly colored plastic and some bearing labels such as “white sugar” or “pork,” covered the entire flight deck of the 418-foot Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton.
Vice Admiral Karl Schultz, Coast Guard commander in the Atlantic, said the seizures are part of an effort to target vessels bringing cocaine north by sea from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia before the loads reach land and are divided up into much smaller amounts for smuggling into the U.S. and Canada.
Cocaine seizures at sea result in three times more drugs intercepted than all U.S. land-based law enforcement efforts combined, Shultz added.