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What $800 million worth of cocaine looks like

Drug traffickers are using make-shift submarines to transport millions of dollars worth of cocaine to the U.S.
Drug traffickers are using make-shift submari... 01:57

SAN DIEGO -- It's estimated that three-fourths of the cocaine coming into the U.S. is now coming up the Pacific Coast. CBS News was there when the U.S. Coast Guard unloaded nearly one billion dollars worth of seized drugs in San Diego.

U.S. Coast Guard CBS News

When surveillance aircraft spotted a make-shift submarine in waters off Central America, a boarding team from the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf found more $200 million worth of cocaine.

Scott Perrygo was part of the team.

"Getting the semi-submersible was pretty exciting. Just seeing it for the first time, and seeing the sheer amount of drugs on it -- almost 18,000 pounds."

This year for the Coast Guard, working with the military and U.S. customs, has seized more cocaine in the Pacific than the last three years combined.

Fifty-thousand pounds of cocaine, worth almost $800 million, sit on board the Bertholf.

50,000 pounds of cocaine on board U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf CBS News

To give an idea of how much cocaine that is, each brick is a kilo worth about $25,000. Which means a pack of ten is $250,000. An entire pallet is about $12 million worth of cocaine.

The Coast Guard estimates it is only catching a third of what's out there. Commandant Paul Zunkuft says the reason more cocaine is economics.

"When you look at the business case of what it takes to produce one kilo of cocaine, about $2,000 in Colombia, that same kilo sells for $25,000 here in the U.S."

CBS News' Carter Evans holds about $250,000 worth of cocaine seized by the U.S. Coast Guard. CBS News

For Coast Guardsmen like Brent Leytezll, who has two kids, these missions hit home.

"This makes a difference, and I can tell after all this stuff right here, my kids are really safer now," said Leytezll.

Nearly 700 smugglers have been arrested so far this year.

As for the cocaine? Some will be kept for evidence, but most will be incinerated at a secret location.

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