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Coast Guard Cutter Makes $6 Million High Seas Pot Bust

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) -- After seizing more than 3,100 pounds of cocaine in a bust earlier this month, the Coast Guard Cutter James has followed with the high seas seizure of 3,350 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of approximately $6 million from a go-fast vessel in international waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Coast Guard officials headquartered in Alameda announced the latest bust on Friday.

A maritime patrol aircraft spotted a suspected smuggling vessel in mid-May and diverted the James to intercept the go-fast vessel.

Once on scene, James' crew initiated a pursuit of the suspected smugglers, who attempted to evade capture while throwing contraband overboard. A helicopter disabled the boat's engines and a Coast Guard boat crew was also to board the vessel, discovering four suspected smugglers and approximately 3,350 pounds of marijuana aboard.

It was the second major drug bust by the crew this month.

A maritime patrol aircraft spotted a suspected smuggling vessel on May 13 and diverted the James -- which is based in South Carolina -- to the vessel's position.

Once on scene, James' crew boarded the vessel to find four suspected smugglers and initially discovered a small amount of cocaine aboard the vessel.

The boarding team members later discovered an area of the ship that had been closed off, where they discovered the majority of the 3,100 pounds of cocaine worth $53.5 million.

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives.

The Coast Guard said the fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys' Offices in districts across the nation.

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