Late last month, 1,250 pounds of cocaine were seized when the U.S Coast Guard intercepted a drug-trafficking boat off the Costa Rican coast. On Monday, crewmembers of the cutter Northland unloaded the $19 million cargo in Miami Beach, The Miami Herald reports.
“This was part of a seizure that happened on May 29 by one of our national security cutters that was alerted by a Customs and Border Protection aircraft. There were six suspected smugglers who were detained. They were sent and detained in Guantanamo Bay and they will be handed over to federal authorities,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma, spokesman for the Miami Coast Guard.
According to Marilyn Fajardo, a spokeswoman for the U.S Coast Guard, the cutter Bertholf intercepted the shipment after Customs and Border Protection reported a go-fast boat. The seize was made 305 miles southwest of the Cocos Island — a Costa Rican national park.
The drug bust is the first major cocaine seizure since the Coast Guard’s Seventh District was taken over by its current commander Rear Adm. John H. “Jake” Korn, who has vowed to maintain emphasis on migrant and drug interdiction — the district’s two priorities.
“I plan to continue executing [policies] just as we have been,” he told the Miami Herald. “I reserve the right to make a few tweaks as I go along and learn more, but from what I can see the policies and procedures in place are excellent.
Most drug seizes of similar magnitudes fall under the purview of Operation Martillo — a multinational program aimed at combatting the naval trafficking of large quantities of controlled substances, whose area of operation is usually limited to the Caribbean or the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, the latest seize was technically within a different district, as the boat was interdicted in the Pacific.
“What’s interesting here is that this was technically by a 11th District Coast Guard asset, the national security cutter Bertholf, and an aircraft and small boats,” said Somma. “It was then transferred to a Coast Guard cutter to be brought to Miami.”
Last year, the Coast Guard seized about 236,000 pounds of cocaine worth $3.5 billion, as well as 124,000 pounds of marijuana worth $112 million. All in all, the agency interdicted 70 vessels.