U.S. Coast Guard seizes 42 bales of cocaine

Drugs valued at $22 million, authorities say

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The U.S. Coast Guard seized nearly a ton of cocaine worth $22 million during a drug patrol in the Caribbean, according to authorities.

The cutter Bear delivered the 42 bales of white powder to the Coast Guard's Miami Beach station Friday.

"Today, we're offloading $22 million worth of drugs that were actually seized by our Royal Netherland partners, the Van Amstel," said Commander Dave Ramassini.

The drugs were seized after the Royal Netherlands Navy ship chased a boat suspected of smuggling. Authorities said the crew got nervous and threw the bales overboard into the ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard collected the drugs, officials said.

"Typically, when we go on patrol, we'll come back with a seizure, if not two. We're interdicting ships, and small boats carrying up to a thousand to 1,500 kilograms of cocaine at values that exceed 20 to 30, even $40 million," said Ramassini.

The seizures are part of Operation Martillo, which means Operation Hammer. The international mission is aimed at curtailing the illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of Central America.

"It's great pride in doing what we do," said Ramassini.

Since the operation began in January, U.S. federal law enforcement agencies have seized nearly 265,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $2 billion and roughly 25,000 pounds of marijuana estimated at $23 million, authorities said. According to officials, law enforcement has also seized 80 vessels and aircraft and made 275 arrests.

"If it was intended to make our streets, it sure didn't get here," said Marilyn Fhardo with the U.S. Coast Guard. "That's 22 million dollars the bad guys won't see."

Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.