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Coast Guard Offloads More Than A Billion Dollars Worth Of Seized Drugs At Port Everglades

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - Talk about a major haul.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James sits docked in Port Everglade after months of serving interdictions at sea.

Its deck covered with pallet after pallet of more than 70,000 pounds of drugs. 54,500 pounds of cocaine and nearly 16 thousand pounds of marijuana.

The drugs were seized during multiple interdictions in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea.

During a news conference on Thursday, the Coast Guard shared a video of a pursuit of a speed boat in which shots were fired. Captain Todd Vance explained it as protocol.

"Steps that we take to allow them the opportunity to abide by our tactical interaction", Captain Vance said. "If that does not happen, we deploy warning shots which is what you saw in the video.  A lot of the targets decide to comply at that point."

The cutter James spent 3 months patrolling coastal and international waters.

It made 11 busts netting cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs which set a Cutter James record.

Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz said this was possible by working with multiple agencies.

"Cutter James here is representative of the US efforts," he said. "the allied nations in the western hemisphere and partnered nations do this important work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year".

Had the drugs hit U-S streets the potential value would have been more than $1 billion.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it also had the potential to ruin countless lives by feeding the drug abuse epidemic.

"It also means pulling the talents like we have here today, to make America safer and to stop the brutal pain drugs too often bring to our nation and to too many families", said Wasserman Schultz.

The US Coast Guard plucks more drugs from coastal waters than any other agency or country in the world.  They said this serves as a warning to anyone thinking of running drugs - eventually, you'll be caught.

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