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Coast Guard offloads 18 tons of cocaine

Drugs seized off Central, South America

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The U.S. Coast Guard crews offloaded about 18 tons of cocaine Thursday in San Diego. The drugs were seized from different parts of south and central America in the past three months, according to The Associated Press, NBC News and other news organizations.

The estimated 36,000 pounds of cocaine is valued at more than half a billion dollars, said Capt. James Passarelli, commanding officer of USCG Cutter Waesche.

The cocaine was seized from 15 interceptions of suspected drug smuggling vessels, known as pangas, along with three cases of seized bales of cocaine dumped by suspected smugglers, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Last year, USCG crews seized more than a record 400,000 pounds of cocaine. They are currently on track to pass that record again this year.