Federal authorities are seizing massive quantities of cocaine in marine operations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (CBP-AMO) agents and U.S. Coast Guard crews have been successfully intercepting and confiscating significant amounts of cocaine that are being smuggled into the United States through boats.

In their most recent five operations, law enforcement officials successfully confiscated approximately $290 million worth of cocaine, which amounted to over 15,700 pounds or nearly 8 tons. This quantity of cocaine could potentially result in over 82 million lethal doses, highlighting the significant danger posed by the drug.

In an operation in early March, agents from CBP-AMO in Houston, working alongside partners in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, successfully intercepted a cocaine smuggling event. The quantity of cocaine seized in this operation was enough to cause more than 16.1 million fatalities.

On March 2, CBP’s Houston Air and Marine Branch Maritime Patrol agents collaborated with Joint Interagency Task Force-South and international partners in a narcotics smuggling source and transit zone. They successfully detected a suspicious vessel during their operation. Throughout the mission, the aircrew diligently maintained surveillance and effectively communicated with maritime crews.

An international partner team took action and intercepted the vessel, resulting in the arrest of five individuals, according to CBP. In addition, they successfully confiscated a staggering amount of cocaine weighing around 3,081 pounds, equivalent to over 1.5 tons. The estimated value of the seized drugs is a staggering $40.5 million.

According to Addiction Resource, a lethal dose of cocaine is 82.5 milligrams. In this operation, federal agents seized enough cocaine to potentially kill more than 16.1 million people. To put it in perspective, there are 433,592 milligrams in a pound, and 2,000 pounds make up a ton.

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“Our collaborations in the Southeast Region play a vital role in preventing the unlawful transportation of drugs prior to their arrival at the borders of the United States,” emphasized Todd Rowell, the director of the Houston AMO branch at CBP. He further added, “Our dedicated aircrews will persistently contribute to the collective endeavor of disrupting and putting an end to maritime smuggling.”

In the Caribbean’s international waters, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard HMCS Margaret Brooke intercepted a vessel and confiscated over 1,100 pounds of cocaine. With a street value of approximately $14 million, this haul, equivalent to slightly over half a ton, could potentially result in the deaths of more than 5.7 million individuals. The drugs were later offloaded by the Cutter Manowar crew at Base Miami Beach earlier this month.

In late February, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert played a crucial role in a significant drug bust in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. A Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron from Jacksonville, Florida, who were assigned to the crew, successfully identified a smuggling vessel. The crew of Cutter Alert swiftly responded by pursuing the vessel in small boats. During the pursuit, the smugglers resorted to desperate measures and began throwing bails of cocaine into the ocean. Undeterred, the dedicated crew tirelessly worked through the night to recover the discarded drugs. In total, they managed to seize an astonishing 4,900 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of over $143 million. It is worth noting that this substantial amount of cocaine could have potentially resulted in 25.7 million lethal doses, posing a significant threat to countless lives.

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According to Cmdr. Lee Crusius, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Alert, the crew’s hard work in the margins has resulted in significant victories. He emphasizes that the Coast Guard’s ability to project capabilities and enforce the rule of law in the maritime domain showcases the valuable return on investment for the American people.

In late February, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Reliance, stationed in Pensacola, Florida, and supporting the Joint Interagency Task Force-South, successfully intercepted and disrupted two significant drug smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. They apprehended six suspected smugglers and halted the illicit activities. Their efforts led to the seizure of approximately 4,000 pounds of cocaine and 5,400 pounds of marijuana in international waters, effectively preventing these drugs from reaching the United States.

The 2 tons of cocaine, valued at over $57 million, had enough lethal doses to potentially take the lives of more than 21 million individuals.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis crew collaborated with Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, and USS Farragut crew to combat drug smuggling in the Central Caribbean. In two distinct instances, they successfully intercepted and confiscated a staggering 2,646 pounds of cocaine, equivalent to over 1.5 tons. This illicit cargo holds an estimated street value of $34.8 million and is potent enough to cause more than 13.9 million fatalities if consumed.

“The cases we came across during this patrol highlight the significance of cooperation among different departments and agencies in preventing the influx of illegal drugs into the United States,” stated Master Chief Petty Officer AJ Gibson, the command chief of Thetis.

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In Fiscal Year 2023, the enforcement actions conducted by CBP-AMO led to the arrest of 1,004 individuals and the apprehension of 89,909 illegal foreign nationals. Additionally, the agents successfully seized or disrupted a staggering amount of illicit substances, including 256,883 pounds of cocaine, 2,049 pounds of fentanyl, and 4,050 pounds of methamphetamine. Furthermore, they managed to confiscate 2,200 weapons and seize a substantial sum of $15.3 million worth of cash.

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