U.S. Coast Guard offloads 18,000 pounds of cocaine seized from drug transit zones of the Eastern Pacific Ocean

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Roughly nine tons of cocaine seized in international water in the eastern Pacific Ocean from mid-October to early this month was offloaded in San Diego Wednesday by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.

The drugs, worth an estimated $312 million, were seized by five USCG vessels, including the Alameda-based Bertholf, according to Coast Guard officials.

Two of the cutters are homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia, one in Charleston, South Carolina, and one in Key West, Florida.

“During at-sea interdictions, a suspect vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military or law enforcement personnel coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force-South based in Key West, Florida, according to an agency statement. “The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The interdictions were made between mid-October and early December by the joint efforts of the following five separate Coast Guard cutter crews:
• Northland (WMEC 904) was responsible for one case seizing 3,328 pounds
• James (WMSL 754) was responsible for one case seizing 1,609 pounds
• Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) was responsible for one case seizing 5,037 pounds
• Thetis (WMEC 910) was responsible for one case seizing 2,394 pounds
• Bertholf was responsible for three cases seizing 5,851 pounds

The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California.

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