Coast Guard offloads over $63M worth of cocaine seized in Caribbean Sea

The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday offloaded more than 2.4 tons of cocaine worth an estimated $63 million in Florida following a pair of operations in the Caribbean Sea.

A Royal Netherlands Navy ship with a USCG law enforcement detachment and helicopter interdiction tactical squadron on board carried out the operations 24 miles north of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, officials said in a series of social media posts.

“USCG and our international partners continue to interdict drug smuggling ventures in international waters to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and increase interoperability with our partner nations and interagency partners,” agency officials said.

Some of the seized drugs were recovered Tuesday when USCG officials said a Royal Netherlands Navy Ship with a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment found a vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics in international waters, NBC News reported.

In a news release, authorities said the vessel sped up when officials tried to get it to stop, turning toward a Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard boat. Officers on the boat, including members of the USCG, “discharged their weapons … in self-defense and defense of others in response to the life-threatening situation,” officials said.

Three suspected smugglers went overboard when the vessel caught fire and sank, according to USCG. Authorities suspended a search for the smugglers, who were not found, on Tuesday evening.

Lt. Cmdr. John Beal, public affairs officer for Coast Guard District Seven, said Tuesday, “The decision to suspend active search efforts is not one we take lightly, and the Coast Guard is working to investigate the incident in accordance with Coast Guard policy.”

“The Coast Guard is America’s primary maritime law enforcement agency, and our crews work hard to safely bring suspected smugglers to face federal prosecution in the United States for alleged crimes,” he added.

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