U.S. Coast Guard Offloads $90M Cocaine Haul in San Diego

The crew of the Alert offload bagged cocaine onto the pier in San Diego (USCG)

Published Oct 17, 2019 4:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

The 1969-built U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alert called at the Port of San Diego Wednesday to offload $92 million worth of seized cocaine.

The drugs were seized in four separate interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America in the international waters of the Eastern Pacific. Three cutters - the Alert, the Robert Ward and the Seneca - contributed to the haul. Alert was responsible for two of the four cases, seizing a total of about two tons of cocaine, while Seneca and Robert Ward captured about 1,500 pounds each. 

"I am extremely proud of this crew for doing their part to keep these dangerous drugs off the streets," said Cmdr. Tyson Scofield, Alert’s commanding officer. "The Eastern Pacific Ocean is a challenging environment, especially on a ship that is in her 50th year of service, yet this crew persevered to disrupt the illegal flow of narcotics that fuels instability in Central and South America. The counter-drug mission is as important now as it has ever been, and these brave men and women can return home after a 69-day patrol knowing they made a difference."

The U.S. Coast Guard maintains an active presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is generally located and tracked by allied, military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. 

The effort has yielded impressive results. In FY2017, the Coast Guard seized about 445,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $6 billion, compared with about 36,000 pounds seized on shore by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.