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U.S. Coast Guard On Pace For Record Year Of Cocaine Seizures

Spencer Parts

As officials unloaded eight tons of cocaine at their base in Miami Beach, Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Cronin said that the Coast Guard is on pace for a record year of cocaine seizures on the high seas.

The cocaine brought ashore Monday  had an estimated wholesale value of $214 million. Sometimes drugs are accounted for in street value, which would bring that total dollar value to more than $800 million. Coast Guard officials said that the cocaine originated in South America and was seized from 11 different smuggling boats on the high seas over the last few months.
"The way our operations work sometimes you have to keep them on the cutter and you get other interdictions and the next thing you know you have seven tons of cocaine," Cronin said. "Then you find an opportunity to offload it either in California or Florida."

Miami is also a good place to unload eight tons of cocaine because there's a facility in South Florida that is equipped to destroy the drugs. The bags were loaded into vans to be inventoried and destroyed.

Cronin said there is no special reward for sailors who intercept millions of dollars worth of cocaine.

"The bonus is the pride and satisfaction in knowing that the training we put in and the time away from families and being deployed out to sea for five, six months out of the year, knowing that the work we do is worth it."

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Cronin

Coast Guard Lt. Mario Gil, who grew up in North Miami Beach, said that it was the most cocaine unloaded in Miami in four years.

"We're interdicting drugs all the time. A lot of times we'll bring it in and there is no press availability. But this amount of drugs, we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity," Gil said. "Eight tons doesn't come in every day."

Listen to a story on the economics of drug smuggling from Fresh Air. Read details in the Miami Herald on one 2015 Coast Guard drug bust here.