Coast Guard Stops 150 Kilos Of Cocaine Headed For The Virgin Islands
TAMPA BAY — The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded approximately 150 kilograms of cocaine seized from suspected smugglers and worth an estimated $5 million.
The cocaine was seized during two separate incidents, in which four alleged drug smugglers also were arrested, in the Caribbean Sea as part of Operation Unified Resolve which tries to stop drugs destined for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, officials said.
In one case, Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 407 aboard the USS Shamal, a U.S. Navy 179-foot Patrol Coastal Ship based in Mayport, boarded a a 47-foot sailboat in the Caribbean Sea and recovered 75 kilograms of jettisoned contraband, which later tested positive for cocaine, authorities said. Two suspects aboard the sailboat were taken into custody.
Later, the Shamal, with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 407 still aboard, stopped a go-fast boat with two aboard in the southwest Caribbean, and the boarding team located three bales weighing approximately 75 kilograms, the department said. The contraband tested positive for cocaine, and the suspected drug smugglers were taken into custody, officials said.
“These seizures highlight the effectiveness of the ongoing joint and coordinated efforts between the Coast Guard and our partner agencies,’ said Coast Guard Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “All of the participants in these interdictions have contributed to a disruption in the flow of illicit drugs to the United States and Puerto Rico, but more importantly will deny illicit revenue to transnational criminal organizations that would have been used to further spread corruption and violence throughout the Caribbean.”
The crew of the Cutter Alligator transferred the four suspected smugglers to U.S. authorities for prosecution by the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, according to authorities.
Operation Unified Resolve is a coordinated effort among the Coast Guard and its Department of Homeland Security partners intended to deter, detect and disrupt illicit maritime trafficking to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The confiscated drugs sit on the dock in St. Petersburg.