Coast Guard Offloads 22,000 Pounds of Cocaine in San Diego

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Image courtesy USCG

Published Sep 13, 2020 5:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf offloaded more than 11 tons of cocaine in San Diego on Thursday.

The drugs, worth nearly $400 million, were seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific. The shipment represents the results of 13 drug smuggling vessel interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America 

Six Coast Guard cutters and two U.S. Navy destroyers accumulated this haul between late May and late August. Bertholf seized 6,700 pounds in two interdictions; Stratton interceped 6,000 pounds in three interdictions; Confidence seized 50 pounds in two interdictions; Decisive seized 1,900 pounds in one interdiction; Venturous seized 1,100 pounds in one interdiction; Tampa seized 1,600 pounds in two interdictions; USS Kidd seized 500 pounds in one interdiction; and USS Preble seized 4,400 pounds in one interdiction. 

“The routine during this patrol was different than most, but the U.S. Coast Guard rose to the challenge, as they always do," said Jim Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "These efforts by our U.S. Coast Guard and United States Navy are critical to reducing the availability of illicit drugs in our country.”

So far in FY2020, the Coast Guard has made more than 170 interdictions, seized more than 280,000 pounds of cocaine and 57,000 pounds of marijuana, and detained nearly 400 suspected smugglers in the busy drug transit zones of the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean.

“These results are unity of effort in action," said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. "This is what it takes to keep illicit drugs off American streets. We take these drugs down at sea, where they're most vulnerable, where they're most susceptible to intercept. In doing that, we break the cycle of those drugs landing in Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico and triggering violence and corruption. That's why this matters.”

Recent research indicates that most of the cocaine headed north from Colombia is ultimately bound for Europe and other overseas markets, where prices are higher than in the United States. Central American container ports like Colon serve as transshipment hubs for these cargoes, and the majority of the northbound trafficking across the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific may be aimed primarily at moving cocaine closer to these seaports - not to the U.S. border.