The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection interdicted approximately 15,000 pounds (around 7.5 tons) of cocaine and detained four suspects from a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico on August 31.
The seized contraband is worth an estimated USD 227 million. After the suspected smugglers and contraband were removed from the semi-submersible the craft was sunk as a hazard to navigation, USCG says.
The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, also on patrol in the area, was alerted to the suspicious vessel.
The cutter launched two Over-the-Horizon Long-Range Interceptor boat crews to intercept and board the vessel.
Upon approach of the boarding teams, four suspected smugglers exited the hull.
Boarding team members retrieved bales and loose bricks of contraband from the semi-submersible that tested positive for cocaine.
”Every load of cocaine stopped at sea impacts the operation of transnational criminal organizations that spread violence, instability and death wherever they operate,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Giammanco of the 11th Coast Guard District law enforcement branch.
”It takes a dedicated, well-coordinated team to accomplish this dangerous and important mission. We’re proud of our crews and thankful for our strong partnership with Customs and Border Protection.”