$156M worth of cocaine seized by Alameda-based Coast Guard

Bay Area

ALAMEDA (KRON) – Nine suspected drug traffickers are in custody after Alameda-based Coast Guard units intercepted three separate vessels between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1.

Coast Guard cutters Munro and Bertholf were responsible for the busts.

In total, over 9,000 pounds of cocaine was seized, estimated to be worth $156 million.

The first operation on Jan. 26 netted 1,300 pounds of cocaine off of a fishing vehicle, while a bust just a few hours later secured 3,439 pounds of the drug from a vessel purposely built for smuggling.

Courtesy Photo U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area – A Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) boarding team member stands atop an interdicted low-profile vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Feb. 1, 2021. Cartels design low-profile vessels specifically to evade law enforcement and to ferry large quantities of illicit contraband while riding low in the water. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.

“Having back-to-back cases lasting 31 hours pushed our limits, but our crew took on the challenge,” said Capt. Blake Novak. “Cartels are cunning and sophisticated, and this is a dynamic environment, which required interagency and international coordination which yielded results.”

Another third “low-profile” vessel was intercepted on Feb. 1 with more than 4,380 pounds of cocaine on board.

Courtesy Photo U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area – Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) boarding teams discover contraband concealed within a fishing vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Jan. 25, 2021. Exercising a bilateral agreement with a partner nation, the boarding teams searched and discovered 1,300 pounds of cocaine concealed within the vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro.

Cartels design low-profile vessels that ride low in the water to specifically evade law enforcement. The low-profile makes them difficult to detect in the open ocean.

Since April of last year, the Coast Guard has increased patrols in the Eastern Pacific area.

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