Coast Guard Intercept Yields Cocaine Stash Valued at Over $143 Million

Coast Guard cutter Alert crewmembers stand behind cocaine bales seized from a drug smuggling vessel in Eastern Pacific waters on Feb. 7, 2024. The 4,950 kg of cocaine seized has an estimated value of more than $143 million. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter in pursuit of a suspected vessel during a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean recovered 4,950 kilos of cocaine valued at over $143 million, Coast Guard officials said Monday, Feb. 26.

The interdiction by the Coast Guard cutter Alert, on its last patrol out of its current homeport in Astoria, Ore., is among the Coast Guard’s largest single intersections in the Eastern Pacific and represents a major blow to criminal organizations attempting to smuggle illicit narcotics through the maritime domain, the Guard has said.

The mission also serves as the capstone in Alert’s time in the Coast Guard Pacific Area. The Alert is to shift homeport in June to be stationed in Cape Canaveral, Fla. as part of the larger Coast Guard Force Alignment Initiative.

During the 59-day patrol that included the cocaine bust, the Alert’s embarked helicopter crew sighted a suspected “go-fast” vessel on a northerly course and alerted the crew of the cutter.  The Alert responded by launching two small boat pursuit teams and when the suspected vessel refused to stop when orders the helicopter crew disabled the engine on the suspect vessel.

The first Coast Guard small boat gained control of the suspect vessel and the second Coast Guard vessel recovered dozens of bales of cocaine that had been jettisoned into the ocean by the suspected smugglers, according to the Guard.