The Coast Cutter James boat brought in more than 61,000lbs of seized illegal drugs (59,700lbs of cocaine and roughly 1,430 lbs of cannabis) into a port in Fort Lauderdale. The substances were found and picked up across the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Sea.
It is the largest offload the US Coast Guard has ever carried out since its establishment in 1790. Members of the boat’s crew remarked that their high yield in such a short amount of time implied much more was out there.
US Coast Guard Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Centerno told NBC 6, “It just shows how much work still needs to be done. The fact that this is done in only three months, it just shows that we’re doing our jobs. There’s still a lot more to be done.”
The ship’s captain, Todd Vance said the their confiscation of the drugs had saved lives and prevented the destruction of communities across the US.
“Every bail of cocaine on this flight deck that doesn’t make it to our shores represents lives saved in New York City, Philly, Chicago, Los Angeles, or any small town that’s dealing with pandemic levels of drug overdoses this year,” he told CBS Miami.
According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 70,000 Americans died due to drug-related overdoses. This includes both illegal and prescription opioids.
According to reports, the US Coast Guard’s task was made harder than usual by the pandemic and harsh weather. The efforts of the crew were praised by Port Everglades, the dock they offloaded at.
“Congrats US Coast Guard for largest drug interdiction in USCG history - 26 tons of cocaine & 1,434 lbs of marijuana worth $1.4 billion,.” they tweeted. “We were honoured to be the offload site. The record haul was the result of an int’l partnership with USCG, US Navy, Canadian Navy & Dutch Navy.”
The seized drugs will be given to an inter-agency team, which will collaborate with the US Attorney’s Office to find and reprimand the drug traffickers responsible for their operations. The seizure was a part of an international effort that includes The Netherlands, Canada and Mexico.