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U.S. Coast Guard seized 9 tons of cocaine from drug smuggling vessels in November, officials say

The U.S. Coast Guard seized over nine tons of cocaine drug smuggling vessels in the Atlantic Ocean last month, officials said. 

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche on Wednesday offloaded the 18,219 pounds of cocaine, which had an estimated street value of more than $239 million. 

The drugs were recovered by two U.S. Coast Guard ships in six separate incidents off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America in November, the Coast Guard said in a news release

The seizures ranged from 44 pounds of cocaine to over 5,500 pounds taken from a self-propelled semi-submersible on Nov. 20. 

Semi-submersibles — also known as "narco subs" — such as the one captured are used to elude detection by coast guards and other authorities. They never go fully underwater, and in the last three decades, a number have been intercepted in the Atlantic Ocean en route to the U.S. or Europe.  

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts counternarcotics patrol on Nov. 20, 2023.
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche conducts a counternarcotics patrol on Nov. 20, 2023. U.S. Coast Guard

The Nov. 20 interception was the first in the Eastern Pacific since 2020, which Captain Robert Mohr, commanding officer of the Waesche, said was a notable achievement.

"I am extremely impressed with the crew's dedication throughout this dynamic patrol," Mohr said in a statement. "They overcame multiple challenges with collective hard work, ingenuity, and positive attitudes to keep us in pursuit of these cartels and their dangerous drugs."

In October, the Colombian navy conducted its own notably large raid when it seized a semi-submersible loaded with 3.3 tons of cocaine, officials said in a news release

The semi-submersible was intercepted while sailing in South Pacific waters, and the cocaine was "apparently intended to be sent to the coasts of Central America," the Colombian Navy said. 

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