$331M Worth of Cocaine Seized by Navy, Coast Guard

By Laura McVicker


U.S. Coast Guard District 11 PAD

Crew members from the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge offload contraband at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., Dec. 18, 2014. The Etheridge is a 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter home-ported in Miami. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Meredith A. Manning)

Friday, Dec 19, 2014 • Updated at 6:06 PM PST

About $331 million worth of cocaine was seized by the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy during patrols from September to this month.

Of that, more than 8.5 tons of cocaine were offloaded Friday from the San Diego-based Navy ship the USS Vandergrift. The drugs were then turned over to federal officials as evidence for the prosecution in the case.

The contraband was intercepted by U.S. Coast Guard teams and U.S. Navy ships patrolling in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central and South America, according to the Coast Guard.

The Vandergrift and its Coast Guard law enforcement counterpart intercepted six loads from suspicious vessels or loads drifting at sea, officials said.

The busts were part of an ongoing effort, called Operation Martillo, involving international law enforcement and U.S. military that targets illicit drug trafficking in the waters off Central America.

Of the Vandergrift’s involvement in the bust, Cmdr. Kevin Ralston said: “USS Vandergrift’s superior performance and exceptional operational success during this seven-month deployment were nothing short of outstanding."

Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/loca...#ixzz3MPrjA5bO