ALAMEDA (KPIX 5) -- After nearly 100 days at sea and a dramatic drug bust in the Pacific, the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter returned home to the welcoming arms of their Bay Area families Monday.
On its first counter-drug deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro seized tens of thousands of pounds of drugs worth about $569 million.
Monday morning, their families welcomed them home as heroes.
140 crew members were reunited with their loved ones after an incredibly successful 3-month patrol off the coasts of Central and South America.
5-year-old Victoria Sanchez and her 1-year-old sister Camila couldn't hold onto their dad tight enough.
"We felt so sad but we got over it and we knew he was going to come back," said Victoria.
"The girls really do help, keeping us busy and making it easier on his deployments," said the girls' mother, Candy Sanchez. "We're just happy he's back."
The job is intense.
GoPro video released last week showed crew members of the Coast Guard cutter as they seized a 45-foot submersible that was stuffed to capacity with 17,000 pounds of drugs and five men.
This type of interdiction only happens about 1 to 3 times a year because this type of expensive vessel is so rare. The subs are constructed in makeshift shipyards deep in the jungle.
"He's jumping on a boat that's going about 10 knots. He's got water washing over the decks," said USCG Cutter Munro Captain Jim Estramonte. "It was a great move. Those guys are great athletes and they've been working toward this type of takedown their whole careers."
Getting everyone home safely is not an easy feat. But it is a job families like the Sanchez family know is necessary.
"It's gotta get done. Someone's gotta do it," said Coast Guard CS Edward Sanchez.
The crew gets to rest up and work from their home base for the next three to four months before they head back out for more.
The drugs offloaded from the cutter represent 14 separate drug smuggling vessel interdictions between May and July of this year.
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