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Over $143 million worth of cocaine offloaded at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale

The seized drugs have an estimated street value of $143.5 million, authorities say.
The seized drugs have an estimated street value of $143.5 million, authorities say.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The fight against drug cartels continues in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean, and on Monday, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma’s crew offloaded more than 7,500 pounds of cocaine in Port Everglades, an estimated street value of $143.5 million, after three interdictions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Nine suspected smugglers were arrested.

The Coast Guard says a maritime patrol flight spotted a vessel on April 16 and that a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment team on the HMCS Saskatoon apprehended five suspects and nearly 4,000 pounds of cocaine from the low-profile vessel.

The vessel was destroyed as a hazard to navigation

Photo by Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest. U.S. Coast Guard District 7 (Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard)

Then, a maritime patrol flight spotted another vessel on April 20, which is when Tahoma’s law enforcement team apprehended four suspects and 2,400 pounds of cocaine from that low-profile vessel, which was also destroyed.

Then, while on patrol, a Tahoma crew member found cocaine bales floating in the water on April 23. The bales were recovered totaling nearly 1,200 pounds of cocaine.

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command increased counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime.

The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.

Photo by Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest. U.S. Coast Guard District 7 (Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard)

The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.


About the Author:

Nicole Lopez-Alvar is a Miami-born and raised journalist and TV personality covering South Florida and beyond for Local10.com.