The Coast Guard cutter Waesche, following six separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, returned to its homebase in San Diego with 18,129 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value exceeding $239 million.
U.S. Coast Guard officials, who announced the drug busts Dec. 7, said the interdictions occurred from Nov. 7 through Nov. 24.
Vice Adm. Andrew Tiongson, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, praised the work of Coast Guard members and their partners for stopping these narcotics from reaching the United States.
Coast Guard officials said the fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases, from detection, monitoring and intersections to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ offices in districts nationwide.
The interdictions, including actual boardings, are led and conducted by the Coast Guard.
“Without these nine tons of cocaine on American streets, fewer people will have access to this toxic poison, and hundreds of millions of dollars will not make it into cartel coffers,” U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said.
The Waesche is one of four Legend-class national security cutters homeported in Alameda, Calif. National security cutters can operate in the most demanding open ocean environments, including hazardous fisheries of the North Pacific Ocean and the vast approaches of the Southern Pacific, where a large amount of narcotics traffic occurs, Coast Guard officials said.