ALAMEDA, Calif. (KTVU) - A United States Coast Guard crew returned to Coast Guard Island in Alameda with $350 million worth of confiscated cocaine and heroin, according the Coast Guard.
The Cutter Stratton troop spent 75 days patrolling international waters off the coasts of Central and South America. While disrupting Transnational Organized Crime networks, they managed to intercept 11 drug smuggling vessels and seize more than 18,500 pounds of cocaine and heroin. Forty suspected smugglers will be prosecuted in U.S. courts.
"Each crew member contributed to the collective success of Stratton's patrol,” Capt. Craig Wieschhorster, the commanding officer of the Stratton, said in a statement. “This was a complete team effort that takes an all hands on deck commitment. Stopping illicit movements at sea, where the Coast Guard has the tactical advantage, starves criminal organizations of a revenue stream, promotes stability in Central American countries and eases migration pressures on our U.S. Southwest border. Border security starts at sea. Stopping suspected smugglers and bringing them to justice in U.S. courts allows the collective interagency effort to break these criminal networks."
And this bust was announced less than two after Stratton’s crew offloaded 50,550 pounds of cocaine and heroin – worth an estimated $679.3 million – in San Diego. The recent score adds to a record-breaking year of drug interdictions by the Coast Guard and U.S. interagency partners for the 2017 fiscal year. See footage of an at-sea contraband transfer:
Coupled with the work of 25 separate seizures conducted by four Coast Guard Cutters and a Navy ship, this offload brought the total of cocaine seized to 455,034 pounds for our current fiscal year. That’s an estimated value of $6.1 billion. The previous record was 443,000 pounds set in 2016’s fiscal year.