06-7-2024, 1:59 PM

U.S. Coast Guard Unloads $63 Million Worth of Cocaine Following Gunfight with Smugglers

Photo from U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard reported offloading over 4,800 pounds of cocaine, valued at more than $63 million, at a Florida port on Thursday. This occurred two days following an incident where Coast Guard officers shot at and sank a speedboat suspected of drug smuggling in the Caribbean Sea.

"USCG and our international partners continue to interdict drug smuggling ventures in international waters to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and increase interoperability with our partner nations and interagency partners," the Coast Guard said in their post.

The narcotics were discovered during two stops approximately 24 miles north of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

The cocaine offload announcement was made shortly after authorities disclosed that a joint operation involving a Dutch navy ship and U.S. Coast Guard assets in the Caribbean Sea had detected a vessel suspected of narcotics smuggling in international waters. According to a news release issued on Thursday, the suspected drug trafficking speedboat did not comply with a halt signal early Tuesday and charged towards the Dutch patrol boat.

In response, Dutch Navy and U.S. Coast Guard personnel aboard the patrol boat fired upon the speedboat in self-defense and to protect others, citing a life-threatening scenario. The speedboat subsequently caught fire and sank, resulting in three suspected smugglers going overboard and disappearing beneath the water, according to the Coast Guard.

Search efforts for the three suspects were called off by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Royal Netherlands Navy, and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard on Tuesday evening, with no injuries reported among the Dutch and U.S. personnel.

"The Coast Guard is America's primary maritime law enforcement agency, and our crews work hard to safely bring suspected smugglers to face federal prosecution in the United States for alleged crimes," Lt. Cmdr. John W. Beal said in a statement Thursday.

This event follows closely on the heels of another significant drug bust by the Coast Guard, where a crew in San Diego offloaded cocaine worth $468 million from eight separate operations off the coasts of Mexico, Central America, and South America, just a week earlier.

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