MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded approximately 18.5 tons (16,856 kilograms) of cocaine Thursday in Port Everglades worth an estimated $498 million wholesale seized in international waters off the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The drugs were interdicted along Central and South America by U.S. Coast Guard cutters and a Royal Canadian Navy ship sailing with an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team aboard.
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The offload represents 20 separate, suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions by the Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Naval crews and its interagency partners:
- The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton was responsible for six cases, seizing an estimated 5,359 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk was responsible for three cases, seizing an estimated 2,781 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable was responsible for three cases, seizing an estimated 2,640 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 1,977 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Campbell was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 1,506 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter Resolute was responsible for two cases, seizing an estimated 1,073 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Coast Guard Cutter James was responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 1,066 kilograms of cocaine.
- The Royal Canadian Ship HMCS Saskatoon and a Coast Guard LEDET were responsible for one case, seizing an estimated 454 kilograms of cocaine.
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in California, on the East Coast, and in the Caribbean.
"The 18.5 tons of seized cocaine coming off our decks today is the product of partnerships and the collaboration of U.S. Southern Command, Joint Interagency Task Force-South, the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State and Justice, the Canadian Navy and many of our international maritime service partners," said Capt. Scott Clendenin, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton. "Building international partnerships is at the heart of this effort. No one nation alone can prevent the deleterious impact of drug smuggling on our borders and on the region as a whole. Our efforts to interdict modern maritime smugglers involves intricately choreographed actions of joint, interagency and international operations centers, aircraft and vessels operating in concert against stealthy and well-funded international criminal smuggling organizations."
The Coast Guard increased U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones off of Central and South America, as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially 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 law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, California.
The cutter Hamilton is a 418-foot National Security cutter homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. The cutter Mohawk is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Key West. The cutter Dependable is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The cutter Valiant is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Jacksonville. The cutter Campbell is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Kittery, Maine. The cutter Resolute is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg. The cutter James is a 418-foot National Security cutter homeported in Pascagoula, Mississippi. HMCS Saskatoon is a Kingston Class coastal defense vessel based in Esquimalt, British Columbia.