The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded a massive haul of seized drugs in San Diego on Thursday, including a total of more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana worth a combined estimated $569 million. All of the drugs were seized in international waters during routine operations in the Eastern Pacific. Vice President Mike Pence was on hand to congratulate the Coast Guard for its efforts.
Despite the massive amount of drugs seized, this shipment represents only 14 individual vessel interdictions made off the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America by just three Coast Guard cutters between May and July of 2019. These efforts saw cooperation from a number of U.S. agencies, including the departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, but ultimately it’s up to the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct the vehicle interdictions, searches, and seizures.
In this incredible footage, also uploaded to Facebook by Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Shultz, you can ride along with one of these Coast Guard teams as they reach a semi-submersible drug-smuggling vessel and begin to board it on the open ocean.
You can get a better look at the semi-submersible in these images released by the U.S. Coast Guard:
Once the Coast Guard seized the drugs from these vessels, some were deemed unworthy of towing back to shore due to flooding in engine compartments and a lack of sufficient tow points. As a result, the Coast Guard intentionally sank these ships.
Of course, this isn’t the reception most vessels receive while transiting these busy waterways. The Coast Guard, along with other American agencies and their counterparts in allied nations, most often precede these interdictions with extensive reconnaissance coordinated through the Joint Interagency Task Force-South, based in Key West, Florida. In these videos, you can see the Coast Guard conducting surveillance on suspicious vessels that ultimately turned out to be trafficking drugs.
Although three Coast Guard cutters were involved in these busts, it was the Munro tasked with unloading the combined haul of cocaine and marijuana, valued at over half a billion dollars, in front of Vice President Pence and a number of other officials, including James W. Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Uttam Dhillon, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area.