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Massive cocaine bust illustrates how agencies work to stop drugs from entering US

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Jun 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-12 21:50:56-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. -- More than 2,000 miles from Hampton Roads, there are efforts being made to keep drugs off the streets.

The Coast Guard said the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Active (WMEC 618) offloaded approximately 11,500 pounds of seized cocaine worth an estimated $220 million in San Diego.

They said the drugs were seized in the international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean during April and May.

They said there were four suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America.

“The drugs will be destroyed by the DEA, and the detainees will face justice in the U.S. courts,” said Cmdr. James O’Mara, the Coast Guard Cutter Active Commanding Officer.

Twelve suspected smugglers were arrested, and five of them are expected to be tried in the Eastern District of Virginia.

“We partner with a number of U.S. attorney's offices around the country from Texas to Virginia to Florida to California to Ohio,” said Lt. Commander Matthew Kroll, public affairs officer. “Whoever can take the case and has that specialty to prosecute.”

The Coast Guard said on April 1, they increased counter-narcotics operations in an effort to disrupt the drug flow.

Kroll said it is much easier to intercept drugs when they are in pure form and in large quantities rather than scattered across areas around the United States.

“This is the end state result of teamwork across multiple inter-agencies. This is what we train for; we are manned, trained and equipped to come down here and do a mission," O'Mara said. "The completion of this mission is a testament to this crew's resolve and their persistence to get out there and get it done.”

They said numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime, including 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.