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‘Largest offload in Coast Guard history’: Crews offload cocaine, marijuana seized at sea

Posted at 9:55 AM, Aug 06, 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard conducted its largest illegal narcotic offload in its history at a Florida port on Thursday.

Officials say the crew of the Cutter James offloaded about 59,700 pounds of cocaine and 1,430 pounds of marijuana worth more than $1.4 billion at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, “the largest offload in Coast Guard history.”

The Coast Guard says the drugs were intercepted in the international waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean Sea.

Officials say the contraband was seized and recovered over the course of three months during 27 interdictions of suspected drug smuggling vessels by 10 American, Dutch, and Canadian ships.

“Every bale of cocaine on this flight deck that doesn’t make it to our shores represents lives saved in New York City, Philly, Chicago, Los Angeles, or any small town in the U.S. that’s dealing with pandemic levels of drug overdoses this year,” said Captain Todd Vance, a commanding officer on the Cutter James, at a press conference.

The Coast Guard says its strong international relationships with key partners, like Canada and the Netherlands, allows them to disrupt transnational criminal organizations, which officials say threaten the U.S. and its partner nations.

"Today's offload is a result of our combined efforts of our inter-agency partners and a dedicated international coalition," said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Commander Atlantic Area.