Over 9 tons of cocaine were captured in six separate drug smuggling incidents last month and offloaded at San Diego on Wednesday, according to the US Coast Guard.
The cocaine is worth more than $239 million on the black market. Two US Coast Guard ships recovered it off the coastlines of Mexico, Central America, and South America in November, according to a news release from the USCG.
On Nov. 20, the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche retrieved the largest seizure, weighing more than 5,500 pounds. A narco-submarine discovered it.
“Our last semi-submersible interdiction was notable because it was the first semi-submersible interdiction in the Eastern Pacific in over three years,” stated Captain Robert Mohr, the Waesche’s commanding officer.
Cutter of the US Coast Guard Waesche is a 418-foot-long National Security Cutter, which supports maritime homeland security and defense activities. The Coast Guard operates eight ships in this class, with its home port at Alameda, California.
From two of the six operations, the Coast Guard Active, a smaller ship primarily assigned to law enforcement and search-and-rescue missions, found nearly 4,000 pounds of cocaine.
According to US Customs and Border Protection figures, more over 40 tons of cocaine were seized in 2023, making it the third largest seized substance behind marijuana and methamphetamines.
Tara McGrath, United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, hailed the Coast Guard for its aid in the state’s fight against narcotics cartels.
“The significance of keeping this much cocaine from reaching our shores and streets is, no doubt, life-changing,” McGrath said in a statement. “Without these 9 tons of cocaine on American streets, fewer people will have access to this toxic poison, and hundreds of millions of dollars will not make it into cartel coffers.”
According to US Sentencing Commission figures from 2020, the average sentence for powder cocaine trafficking was 5 1/2 years.
In 2019, a Philadelphia shipping port found 15,000 kilos of cocaine worth $1 billion, making it one of the largest drug seizures in US history.
US Coast Guard conducts security boarding
On December 6, 2023, the US Coast Guard Sector Boarding Team, a major component of United States Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, performed a thorough security boarding of the 380-foot (116-meter) motor vessel Papa Mau, flagged from Antigua and Barbuda, in the Port of Guam.
This general cargo vessel arrived from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and was thoroughly inspected upon arrival in Guam.
The fact that the port in Pohnpei is working to fulfill U.S. International Port Security Standards but has not yet attained this status, as well as the fact that the vessel crew took no additional advance notice or security measures, prompted this boarding.
The operation guaranteed that the personnel complement on board matched the manifest and that additional security precautions were in place. This step is critical for upholding the high marine safety and security standards upheld by the US Coast Guard and the Port of Guam.
This operation follows the successful bilateral exchange between the US Coast Guard International Port Security (IPS) Program and FSM in Chuuk and Pohnpei. From October 15 to 19, this program aimed to improve compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. This collaboration demonstrates the Pacific region’s shared commitment to maritime safety and environmental responsibility.
2d Class Petty Officer As the boarding officer, Christopher Bruce applauded his team’s efforts: “Our team’s professionalism and flexibility are critical in providing essential services to ensure maritime security in Micronesia.” We are dedicated to maintaining safe and secure marine routes, which are critical to the region’s growth.”
The US Coast Guard Sector Boarding Team in Guam is critical to the port’s security. The squad greatly contributes to the US Coast Guard’s robust presence in the Pacific by collaborating with other units such as the Joint Rescue Sub-Center and quick response cutters.
The United States Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam is well-known for its comprehensive approach to carrying out different statutory missions. Search and rescue, defense readiness, and the protection of life aquatic resources are among them. A substantial emphasis continues on guaranteeing smooth marine commerce and the security of ports, rivers, and coastal areas.
The ISPS Code, which is essential to these activities, is a global standard for marine security. It was established after 9/11 with the goal of detecting and preventing security concerns in international maritime trade. As a signatory to the SOLAS agreement, the Federated States of Micronesia is actively seeking to achieve full compliance with the ISPS Code.
In the future, the US Coast Guard International Port Security Program intends to visit FSM on a biannual basis. These visits are critical for encouraging teamwork and maintaining consistent progress toward ISPS compliance.
It is impossible to overestimate Guam’s strategic importance as a hub for US Coast Guard activities in the region. Guam’s role as a Pacific gateway is critical in enhancing maritime security and promoting safe and efficient maritime commerce.
As the FSM moves closer to ISPS compliance, the role of the US Coast Guard in guaranteeing port security and developing international maritime cooperation is more important than ever. The US Coast Guard and its Pacific partners are establishing a strong example of devotion to marine safety, security, and stewardship through these coordinated operations.