MIAMI BEACH - The Coast Guard seized $37 million worth of cocaine at sea and will be offloaded Tuesday at Miami Beach Coast Guard station.
The 2,500 pounds of cocaine seized marks a historic multi-national operation - a drug interdiction where an armed U.S. Coast Guard helicopter launched from a British ship to catch suspected drug smugglers.
The operation happened on Jan. 22nd, just south of the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard officials said their aircraft spotted a 25-foot speeding boat with 4 people and suspicious packages aboard.
"They began jettisoning those packages overboard. We fired warning shots to disable the motors," said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma, U.S. Coast Guard.
Coast Guard officials launched its helicopter from the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight and intercepted the suspected smugglers.
The helicopter arrived on scene and fired warning shots in an attempt to get the vessel to stop.
Officials say during the pursuit, the suspected drug smugglers were spotted tossing multiple packages overboard. The helicopter employed airborne use-of-force and disabled the vessel.
"It's a tremendous win for U.S., for the U.K. And for our international partners to stop the flow of illegal drugs," said Somma.
Officials detained the suspected smugglers and recovered 45 bales of cocaine from the water.
The four smugglers will be transferred to law enforcement authorities in the U.S.
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