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Coast Guard Seizes $16 Million In Cocaine Off Puerto Rico

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - It was all in a day's work for the crew of a Coast Guard cutter off Puerto Rico as they rounded up a trio of Dominican drug smugglers and seized $16 million in cocaine.

While on a routine patrol on March 18th, a chopper crew with the Joint Interagency Taskforce South spotted a suspicious go-fast boat speeding toward Puerto Rico with three people and possibly  drugs on board, according to the Coast Guard.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma was alerted to the situation and ordered to intercept them. Onboard the Tahoma was a Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) which launched. The HITRON crew spotted the suspected smugglers and guided an interdiction crew from the Tahoma to their location.

The crew of the Tahoma rounded up the suspected smugglers and seized 14 bales, weighing 1,100 pounds, which tested positive for cocaine.

"It was truly a multi-agency effort to interdict the vessel and prevent over 1,100 pounds of contraband from entering the United States," said Cmdr. Willie L. Carmichael, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma commanding officer.

The suspected smugglers and drugs were taken to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they turned over to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents.

Since January 2014, the Coast Guard has seized 15,671 kilograms of cocaine and 5,320 pounds of marijuana during 16 drug interdictions as part of Operation Unified Resolve. The wholesale value for these seizures was worth more than $524 million.


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