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Coast Guard Cutter Involved In Massive Cocaine Bust Comes Home

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) -- A Coast Guard vessel involved in a massive international drug bust returned to Alameda Monday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche pulled into dock at Coast Guard Island in Alameda after two months at sea.

coast guard ship

A total of 18 tons of cocaine with an estimated street value of a half-billion dollars was seized in the massive bust of transnational criminals.

Coast Guard crew members played a big part in the huge multi-agency bust along the Central and South American coasts.

"We figure that about 90 percent of the cocaine that comes to the US comes over maritime means at some point," said Capt. James Passarelli, the Waesche's commanding officer.

Captain Passarelli explained to KPIX 5 how his crew nabs the stealthy drug smuggling boats.

"Were trying to detect the vessel as far away from us as possible so they cant see us," said Passarelli. "When I can, I launch either my interceptor boats or my helicopter to try to sneak up on these vessels and get to them and get positive control of those vessels before they even know we're there."

The full 36,000 pound haul of cocaine was offloaded in San Diego last week after being seized by 10 different Coast Guard cutters between March and June.

The Waesche will be docked at Coast Guard Island for the next few weeks for maintenance and repairs before heading out on its next assignment.

Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard broke its own record, seizing more than 443,000 pounds of cocaine from the eastern Pacific.

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