U.S. Coast Guard seized $37 million in cocaine, offloaded in Miami Beach
4 suspected drug smugglers arrested and identified
MIAMI BEACH – The U.S. Attorney's Office released the identities of the four suspected drug smugglers who were arrested in a recent cocaine bust by the U.S. Coast Guard on Jan. 22nd.
Linberto Gallardo-Gonzalez, Uriel Julio Tapia, Miguel Angelsori-Ortiz and Miguel Vasquez-Barrios where arrested.
The Coast Guard seized $37 million worth of cocaine at sea and it was offloaded Tuesday at Miami Beach Coast Guard station.
Coast Guard officials are calling the multimillion drug bust historic.
"To patrol the Caribbean and stop the illegal flow of drugs, this is $37 millions that's not going to make it here," said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Soma, U.S. Coast Guard.
Officials say this is the first time that an armed Coast Guard helicopter has launched from a U.K. military ship.
The operation started with a high-speed chase on the high seas just south of the Dominican Republic. Coast Guard officials said their aircraft spotted a 25-foot speeding boat with four people and suspicious packages aboard.
Officials used sophisticated night vision cameras as they chased the suspected drug smugglers. During the pursuit, officials said they fired warning shots in an attempt to get the vessel to stop.
The four were spotted tossing multiple packages overboard before throwing their hands up in defeat and being arrested.
Officials seized 2,500 pounds of cocaine. The cocaine was packed into sacks and disguised as bags of sugar. Just one sack is worth $8,000, officials said.
While the wholesale value of the cocaine is estimated at $37 million, the street value is said to be up to three times more.
The four suspected smugglers remain in U.S. custody.
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