Coast Guard seizes major cocaine loads off Latin America - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Coast Guard seizes major cocaine loads off Latin America

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The U.S. Coast Guard unloaded more than 25 tons of seized cocaine at the San Diego Harbor waterfront Thursday at the culmination of an Eastern Pacific patrol that netted two dozen drug busts at sea.

The drug haul brought to the Marine Terminal by the Alameda-stationed cutter Bertholf was valued at more than $765 million, according to USCG public affairs. It was seized between late July and early November by five Coast Guard vessels and a Canadian navy ship.

"These interdictions - and the hundreds of millions of dollars, tons of drugs, and many trafficker prosecutions they represent - help disrupt the violent transnational criminal organizations that threaten the security of the U.S. and the entire western hemisphere," said Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District.

The largest single seizure during the deployment was 7.5 tons of cocaine discovered aboard a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel intercepted Aug. 31, officials said.

The others ranged from roughly 300 to 2,000 pounds, obtained from 23 drug-running speedboats and two recoveries of abandoned bales.

In fiscal 2015, USCG personnel operating from cutters, Navy ships and international partner-nation vessels seized in excess of 158,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific, more than the totals in 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined, according to the Coast Guard.

During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied military or law enforcement aircraft or boats.

The actual interdictions, including the boarding, search, seizures and arrests, are led and conducted by USCG personnel.

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