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Suspected smugglers jettison bales of cocaine into Eastern Pacific Ocean during Coast Guard stop

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert seized nearly 11,000 pounds of cocaine during a bust in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, officials said Monday. 

The cutter was on a 59-day narcotics patrol when its helicopter crew spotted a suspected "go-fast" vessel, which the FBI defines as a small, low-profile vessel favored by smugglers. After spotting the "go-fast" vessel, the cutter launched both of its small-boat pursuit teams. 

The Coast Guard ordered the vessel to stop, but it kept going, so the crew's helicopter disabled the "go-fast" vessel's engine. CBS News has reached out to the Coast Guard for details on how the engine was disabled. In the past, officials have said Coast Guard marksmen onboard the helicopters fire disabling shots.

coast guard cocaine seizure
Crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Alert (WMEC 630) stand behind cocaine bales seized from a drug smuggling vessel in Eastern Pacific waters. Coast Guard

The cutter's pursuit team caught up and gained control of the vessel, officials said. Members of the Coast Guard also recovered dozens of bales of cocaine jettisoned into the ocean by the suspected smugglers. They worked through the night to haul in and account for all the cocaine, valued at more than $143 million.

"The interdiction is among the Coast Guard's largest single interdictions in the Eastern Pacific and represents a major blow to the criminal organizations attempting to smuggle illicit narcotics through the maritime domain," the agency said in a news release.

The Coast Guard did not provide further details about the suspected smugglers.

Cocaine is classified as a schedule II controlled substance because of its high potential for abuse.

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